Ireland’s first ‘drug consumption facility’ has been given permission to open in Dublin despite serious concerns.
The first ‘medically supervised injection facility’ in Ireland, which will be a ‘safe space’ for addicts to take drugs without the risk of prosecution, can open for a trial period of 18 months.
The go-ahead was given despite fears of increased drug dealing, anti-social behaviour and its proximity to a school.
Despite serious concerns
St Audoen’s National School had appealed against the decision to grant planning permission for the drug centre.
A report by planning inspectors outlined concerns about increased drug use and associated criminality as well as “the absence of adequate police resources to control such a facility in the city centre”.
The inspector acknowledged the concerns that children should not have to witness drug taking and related criminal and anti-social activities the facility is likely to attract, but still approved the application.
The Oireachtas Justice Committee has been pushing for the opening of the injection facility in Dublin and recently called for the roll-out of more ‘safe consumption facilities’.
Last month, the Committee published a report proposing decriminalising drugs for personal use.
It claimed that there are “harms associated with pursuing a criminal justice led approach to drug use and misuse”.
It also recommended that the “cultivation of currently illicit substances at a modest, non-profit level be examined”.
The report has been welcomed by those in favour of more liberal laws on drugs.
A Private Member’s Bill which seeks to decriminalise cannabis was brought before the Irish Parliament in December.
Former Taoiseach Micheál Martin urged caution and warned against glamorising cannabis in the light of the “real concerns within the health community and the medical community about what cannabis can do to young people”.
San Francisco failure
In the USA, a government-funded open-air drug market in the heart of San Francisco closed down in December.
The pilot scheme which ran for just one year and cost the city’s health department $22 million, was branded a failure that created ‘misery’ for locals.
Following the opening of the facility, shocking images emerged of illegal drug use in public. Recovering addict Ricci Wynne posted a video of school children on their way home walking past people injecting in streets near the facility.
Former addict, Thomas Wolf, criticised the approach saying in recent years the city “created the environment for easy access to drugs 24/7”.
California also backtracked on plans to open further facilities over fears they encourage illegal drug use, with Governor Gavin Newsom vetoing a Bill to authorise sites in three cities.
Despite being an ardent supporter of so-called “harm reduction strategies”, Newsom stated that opening more sites risked causing “worsening drug consumption challenges”.