Supervised injection facilities are still needed to “save lives”, Fr Peter McVerry has said.
Six years ago, the Oireachtas passed the Misuse of Drugs Act 2017 which allowed for the licensing of supervised injection facilities.
The National Social Inclusion Office states on its website there is, “high-quality research from around the world which demonstrates the benefits of SIFs.”
Despite this, no facility has been set up and there is still no news on when one might be.
“I think injection facilities are very important,” Fr McVerry told Newstalk Breakfast.
“They save lives; people will inject heroin, they have an addiction to heroin, they just can’t stop using heroin overnight.
“Injecting is not a safe process, so by having injection centres where you have qualified staff, if anything does go wrong, then there’s people there to address it.
“Secondly, people always complain about needles being found in alleyways and doorways around town, this will reduce the number of needles that will be found in the public arena.
“It’s been very successful in other cities, other cities have expanded it.
“It’s a no-brainer.”
Proposals to set up safe injection facilities often encounter a certain amount of resistance from people in the local community.
Fr McVerry said he understands people’s “fears” but thinks overall it will reduce “risk” to the community.
“People will be injecting indoors in a safe area,” he said.
“There’ll be far less injecting outside, there’ll be far less visible injecting, it actually makes things far easier for local communities.”
Once a major problem in Dublin, Fr McVerry feels heroin is much less popular than it was in the capital city.
“Heroin is on the way out in Dublin,” he said.
“Not in the other cities… I come across very few new people who start off on heroin. Crack cocaine is the drug of choice.
“You don’t inject crack cocaine; you smoke it through a pipe, so it’s not the same issue at all.”
Despite this, Fr McVerry believes there is still a demand and need for the facilities in the medium-term.
“We need them at the moment, primarily older users who started off on heroin when heroin was the only drug in town,” he said.
“So, we still need it - but eventually yes, I think the injection centres will fade away.”
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Main image: Fr Peter McVerry.