Written answers

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Department of Health

National Drugs Strategy Implementation

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
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621. To ask the Minister for Health the status of the implementation of the Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Facilities) Act 2017; the costs to date associated with the operation and staffing of such supervised injecting facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24457/18]

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael)
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The establishment of a pilot supervised injecting facility is a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government and is a key action in the national drugs strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery. The purpose of the facility is to provide a clean, safe, healthcare environment where people who inject drugs can access medical and social services from healthcare professionals. The ultimate aim is to reduce the number of heroin-related deaths, of which there were 82 in 2015.

The legislative basis for the establishment of such a facility is set out in the Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Facilities) Act 2017  (No.7 of 2017), which came into operation on 30 November 2017.

The Department of Health allocated €1.5m to the HSE for the establishment of the pilot facility for 2018.

In February 2018, the HSE announced Merchants Quay Project CLG as the preferred bidder to operate a supervised injecting facility in Dublin city centre on a pilot basis. The awarding of the contract followed a HSE procurement process initiated in August 2017 and is subject to normal planning permission approval.

I understand that no resources for the facility have been allocated to Merchants Quay Project pending the awarding of planning permission from Dublin City Council.

I support the establishment of a supervised injecting facility as a public health initiative to save lives and to ensure safer communities. Evidence from countries with such facilities shows that they are cost-effective in the long-run, through reducing ill-health for injecting drug users and by improving the environment for residents and businesses. Engaging with local stakeholders, including schools, is therefore an important element of the set up and running of the facility.

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