Merchants Quay drugs project fears cuts (Ireland)

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    This from The Irish Times (article link):

    Merchants Quay drugs project fears cuts

    KITTY HOLLAND

    THE LARGEST voluntary drug-treatment centre in the State fears it will suffer further budget cutbacks despite large increases in demand for its services.

    More than 1,000 new drug-injectors presented for needle-exchange services at the Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) project last year, compared with 2006, figures to be published today show. The annual review from the centre indicates there were 1,333 new clients using the needle-exchange.

    The total number using the service was 4,705, a 4 per cent increase on the 2006 total. Many of the 2006 users were no longer using the service last year.

    The report indicates an 11 per cent increase in the numbers of meals it provided to homeless people last year. Some 46,431 meals of breakfast and lunch were provided seven days a week at the charity’s open-access homeless service.

    Its primary healthcare service to “rough sleepers” – which offers GP, nursing, dentistry and chiropody – saw a 32 per cent increase in demand, compared with 2006. It provided 6,658 interventions.

    In his commentary on the figures, MQI chief executive Tony Geoghegan said he was “fearful” that resources to tackle drug addiction and homelessness could be cut. He described as “ironic” the fact that while the State had enjoyed unprecedented prosperity through the last 10 years, the drugs issue grew and people continued to sleep rough. MQI provided a “crucial safety net”.

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