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9/10 Fitzwilliam Street Lower, Dublin 2 and a letter sent to Dublin City Council objecting to proposals to open a Dublin Simon Community shelter for the homeless at the address

After reading the letter, Adam Ó Braonáin writes:

“Firstly the letter makes reference to the Simon Communities methadone program and safe needle advice services, provided as part of their emergency service framework.”

“It is no secret that Ireland has seen year on year increases in drug related issues and Simon are part of a larger network of organisations offering support and advice for addicts. Emergency units like the one currently on Harcourt St. provide support for those whom are attempting to battle the disease of addiction.”

“It is also important to note the other in-house services provided at Simon emergency locations, such as – Key working and care planning; life skills programme including group work and classes; service user participation programme; social programme, i.e. outings and in-house events; a nurse is available five days a week providing primary health care and health promotion, vaccinations, blood tests, family planning advice, smear tests and other health services; a doctor is available weekly at an in-house clinic; and a visiting counselling service.”

“These cover physical and mental health care, education and social inclusion all of which can viewed as critical to the preservation of life. If you feel that I am over exaggerating, I invite you to speak with a current or former service user, who have often told me, Simon saved their life.”

“Despite this proposed facility having the capacity to provide such a valuable service, the letter describes the establishment of this new unit as a “horrific scenario” where “all manner of person will be seeking a bed for the night”.”

“All manner of person? I assume they are referring to citizens, human beings, with hearts and minds! They say this will lead to a concentration of homeless people in the area, some of them drug users. The reality is that drug abuse is all around us. The substances which are being abused differ certainly. Some substances have more severe effects than others, but regardless, they are to be found in every walk of Irish life.”

“This is borne out in the figures. A recent report from the Health Research Board shows that deaths related to drug abuse have risen from 432 in 2014 to 633 in 2012 totalling 5,289 in the nine year period. This shows that the need for the services offered at facilities such as Simon on Harcourt St. which this new centre will replace, are ever increasing and as such should have the support of the community.”

“The letter also claims that the shelter will “drive residents and businesses out of the area resulting in once occupied premises being left vacant”. If vacant premises are indeed a bone of contention for residents and business owners then one would think that the utilisation and refurbishment of 9 and 10 Fitzwilliam St. would be viewed as a positive development, given that these buildings are currently vacant and in disrepair.”

“For me, this scenario is quite typical of some sections of society. You can sleep in doorways and shoot up in a dark entry on Fitzwilliam street, so long as you remain on the margins of society and out of sight. But sleep in a bed? Have your medical needs met? In full view, for us all to acknowledge and accept? Not a chance!”

Homelessness: Be part of the solution, not part of the problem (Adam Ó Braonáin)

64 thoughts on “Horrific

  1. Medium Sized C

    “While we are sympathetic to the work that Dublin Simon community do”

    I’m not so sure you get what word means, bro.

  2. only when

    BIRD ON THA RADIO THE OTHER DAY FROM SIMON…SINCEREST TONE I HEARD IN A LONG TIME…OR DID I MISS SOMETHING?

  3. Rep

    Having read the letter, it would seem the main issue is with the methadone clinic and needle exchange. Now, that might just what they have decided to focus on, but it has to be said, I would not be keen to live beside a methadone clinic and needle exchange.

      1. Rep

        So the only reason people might have an issue with this is because of a lack of empathy for others? There is definitely no other possible reason for it?

          1. Rep

            I fail to see what this has to do with my point. Are we to ignore everything we see on and around Marlborough St, Lower Abbey St, O’Connell St and the boardwalk because of this poster?

          2. scottser

            it was just to point out that business associations are engaging in all kinds of nimbyism rep, i’m not having a dig at anyone or undermining your concerns in any way.

            the postcard above that was disseminated around dun laoghaire was pretty disturbing in that business owners were actively interfering with and objecting to other people’s medication in a fairly underhanded way. ‘lack of empathy’ is only a part of it – it’s dressed up as concern for the area, for economy and for ‘their’ community and for no-one else. so when they refer to development plans they are blatantly ignoring all the rest of the stuff about social inclusion, properly managed environments, community response etc.

            anyway, the cynic in me can’t help but think that the business classes have a higher incidence of drug misuse and addiction than any other demographic. i wonder how much coke gets hoovered up from end of fitzwilliam square to another in the course of a week?

    1. Soundings

      “I would not be keen to live beside a methadone clinic and needle exchange.”, nobody would Dear, that’s the issue.

    2. JimmytheHead

      i wouldnt be keen living beside you, so maybe you can go somewhere else? im very important and think you’d lower the tone of the street. its not you i just rank the surrounding property value more than you or your family having a house to live in

  4. Jess

    Look theres two sides to this and they’re both valid. Yes there needs to be increased provision for drug users including their rehabilitation and housing.

    But you can have sympathy for those people and want to help but still be intimidated by high concentrations of drug users. Anyone who goes near the liffey boardwalk can tell you that. When they moved the methadone clinics into the city centre, people who work and live in the city had to put up with an increased number of addicts causing trouble in our workplaces and around our homes. Its not a nice situation to be in.

    1. Colm

      Everybody who says they don’t get where they’re coming from is a liar. Just because non-affected people will identify their objection as being not politically correct, doesn’t mean that their concerns aren’t valid.

      1. Mark Dennehy

        Yeah, you can get where they’re coming from.

        Thing is, you’re a grown-up, you’re supposed to know how not to kneejerk from fear, uncertainty and doubt. You’re supposed to look out for fellow humans against the day when you need someone to look out for you. You’re supposed to apply the golden rule.

        It shouldn’t be so surprising anymore I guess, but it still manages to raise an eyebrow that for a bunch of christians, people tend not to act in a very christian way when their property values come up…

    2. Spaghetti Hoop

      Yep – It has become increasingly dangerous. Some of these addicts have a short fuse and become aggressive easily. The clinics should be located in lighter-populated areas and as far away from city centre thoroughfares as possible. The city centre also tends to be a recreational playground to addicts who could do with a more comprehensive rehab programme.

      1. scottser

        if you put treatment centres away from those who need them, you don’t get the uptake. with this class of patient you need to bring the mountain to mohammed, so to speak.

        1. ahjayzis

          Which is why Dublin city centre is absolutely saturated with junkies.

          Say what you want, but I’ve never been to a major city in any other country with junkies begging and hassling as much as Dublin.

          1. scottser

            and i agree with you ahjayzis. the city centre has become a bit of scum pit in the last few years, and there’s a palpable ‘edge’ to the place. you’ve got to keep your wits about you for sure.

  5. Mick

    Harcourt Street is a disgrace where the clinic is. There are needles all over the street, drug users shooting up in doorways in the middle of the day and junkies out of their mind intimidating anyone walking on the street.

    This service needs to exist but it needs to exist in a way that does not endanger other members of the public. No one from the Simon Community cleans the needles and feces off the street from the vicinity of their clinic. I have not in 3 years seen them do it. If a member of the public accidentally got stuck by one of these needles in my book they would have every right to take the Simon Community to the court.

    Anyone who expresses their wish to not have this on their doorstep and perhaps in some case where their kids play is belittled and vilified yet it is a simple and very human concern.

    1. scottser

      the simon staff wouldn’t be employed to clean the streets, that would be up to the environment section of DCC.

      1. Mick

        Which is a problem isnt it. Its kind of a “Not my problem” approach from Simon. The public dont like the clinic because of what it does to the surrounding area. Simon should be looking at how they can improve on their abysmal footprint that they bring with their clinics.

        Simply put as another reader mentions staff members getting mugged and threatened with needles. I dont care how understanding people are if enough of that happens the public will turn against the addicts. Which no one wants. The public want to help but not in the way it is currently being dealt with which is slowly but surely creating a divide between those that need help and the locals

        1. scottser

          harcourt street has an inhouse safe needle protocol, but what happens on the street is DCC’s jurisdiction. it’s the same if a someone falls out of a boozer and pukes or pisses on the street, i guess. i won’t comment on the muggings etc as it’s outside my area of expertise.

  6. Nikkeboentje

    I used to work on Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1. At the time there was a needle exchange centre and methadone clinic close by (I have no idea if they’re still there). I must admit that I hated every second walking from the office to the car park. You never knew what you would find. A number of colleagues were threatened with needles and mugged. It was not a pleasant environment.

  7. Kolmo

    It’ll never happen – too many powerful and well connected people in the immediate vicinity that can stop this necessary service. I work near a similar service, the most unpleasant thing about it is seeing the lives of people absolutely destroyed with addiction, completely crushed young people, with unimaginably bleak and grim lives, inevitably wearing out the patience and any empathy of those around them. It’s like modern-day leprosy with added chaos.

  8. roddy

    I often think people take a secret satisfaction in locating methadone clinics and halting sites in posh areas, like a feeling of ‘lets stick it to the fat cats the if they object we can dismiss it as snobbery’. Not wanting your house to loose value seems reasonable to me, and not a rich versus poor battle.

    1. Mark Dennehy

      Son, your house isn’t worth what you paid for it and won’t be till you retire. Build a bridge, you all partied, etc, etc, etc.

      And let us know how you feel when one of your kids winds up addicted to something and needs help but gets told by a bunch of middle-class wannabes that they were more concerned with property prices than they were with treatment centers and clinics.

  9. Chuck Fadanoid

    From looking at the planning file online for that, that same letter appears dozens of times with different signatories. Depressing in it’s layout, content and that some middle aged white person was furiously pounding up and down the surrounding streets handy out photocopies.

  10. Right you are

    Best of luck to them. Nobody wants to put up with the inevitable scenes of anti-social behaviour that occur when junkies congregate. Most have no interest in getting clean and prefer their fie to the real thing. Town is already infested with them. Try Aston Quay corner at nighttime to witness the violence and ugliness.

    1. scottser

      ‘Most have no interest in getting clean and prefer their fie to the real thing.’

      i wouldn’t necessarily agree with this. you’ll find most people on methadone use benzos or heroin on top of their script at least a couple of days per week. you’ll often see people selling their methadone or swapping it for same at the weekend when they get a couple of days worth.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        So it’s perfectly fine for this casual meth-trading on our city streets? That’s the problem here.

  11. Streetwise Hercules

    I think at the core of the objection is the belief that this centre is not going to funded and given the proper resources, you know, because that’s what has happened every other time before. The fact that some of the information in the planning application is already misleading would point to this.

    It’s not acceptable to say “we need a shelter, throw something together as quickly as possible”. That will fix nothing, and almost certainly have the negative effects on the area the author fears.

    If there was a clear case of joined up thinking between drug treatment, gardai, etc I’m sure people wouldn’t be as worried.

    1. scottser

      you’ll probably find the community gardai doing a lot of inreach into shelters and street work. city gardai also make it their business to identify lads out rough so i’m sure there’s a good deal of communication there already.

  12. Disasta

    I wouldn’t like to live next to one but sticking the location far from the problem solves nothing.
    If there are groups of users in the area its the ideal location.

    But the Garda are doing well right? Catching those grow-houses and all right?
    There’re solving the drug problem aren’t they?

    Dublin is like NY in the 90s…a kip.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      “sticking the location far from the problem solves nothing.” – Fitzwilliam is city centre, it’s in the thick of the problem, just a few minutes/ under 10 max. walk to the ‘city centre’ if you count, which most do, the city centre as stretching O’Connell St across the river onto Grafton St.

      So, Fitzwilliam is ideally located.

      1. Disasta

        That was my point Clampers. People above suggested moving the location somewhere further out.

        Ah Mani, if you mean Dublin is smaller, less full of tall buildings and less packed with Americans then you’re right. But its a drug, violence and theft filled hell hole, just like NY in the 90’s. Good argument though.

  13. Seanban

    I work beside the proposed wet hostel, I lived nearby for years, my family still do. Christ knows we’ve a homeless problem but we just don’t want a wet hostel with related methadone issues beside us, who would?

  14. John Gallen

    The planning application omission is stupid of Simon. And will possibly be a good reason for objection. But, how many other shelters of any type are in the Fitzwilliam Sq area? None? If that is the case, I say Simon should get the go ahead.

    I am in the process of an objection to a fifth wet-house shelter in my community area covering approximately 0.2KMsq. We also have a number of other homeless facilities, permanent and temporary (winter shelters, only open in winter), both mixed and female only.

    If we didn’t object to the new one we would have 7+ crammed in between the Guinness Brewery and James Hospital, a stretch of 330meters along James St (and the area in between the two complexes of James and Guinness, as I said earlier, an area about 0.2KM squared).

    Call me a NIMBY if you want, but I think we’ve got enough and areas like Fitzwilliam are going to have to take their fare share.

    If you don’t like what the problems of living and working in a city, leave. Work or live elsewhere or deal with it. But the days of dumping on small pockets of the city so landlords in the like of Fitzwilliam can protect their precious property values while they cram these facilities into under privileged areas are over.

    At least they are as far as we in James Street are concerned. We have had meetings with some of the shelters and those running them and we’re working on solutions for maintaining what facilities are there and how best they can operate in this tiny space of the city along with the residents and avoiding the problems as described above on Harcourt St. It’s only talk at this point, but we feel we are getting heard and we’re showing a mutual respect in that we are not trying to run them out but make it work best for all involved with regard to the impact of these facilities on the street itself and its residents. We’re dealing with it, not pushing the problem away, but preventing it becoming overwhelming.

    By the way, we, the James St & District Residents Association will have a carol singing this Wednesday at 5pm presenting the Saint James Primary School Choir ( with Samba Band… I know Xmas and Samba… who’d have thought :) ). It’ll be located on the “Fountain Triangle”.
    We were hoping to have a Christmas tree lighting but we’ve had to leave that until next year. Poster for our small event here – https://www.facebook.com/JstreetRA/photos/a.294549864086406.1073741828.269183823289677/328738564000869/?type=1&theater

    1. scottser

      fair play john, dialogue is the way forward and i hope the carol singing goes well for ye. i’d be an advocate of keeping homeless services local -there should be adequate facilities in each postal district to keep people in touch with their locality. concentration of homelessness and addiction in one area is counter productive to a large extent with homeless service users bouncing from one shelter to another.

  15. Zarathustra

    Does anyone know where the methadone clinics and drug treatment centres were located, before they were centralised? Also, why were they moved in to the city centre, were they not effective where they were?

    1. scottser

      many areas don’t have a methadone dispensary, or if they do capacity could be an issue. if you’re from kildare, wicklow, north dublin etc you could well be forced into the city to avail of a daily methadone script through trinity court or if you’re out rough then you might get a sporadic service from a mobile health unit.

  16. johnnywalker

    I live right across from a rehab centre for drug users and alcoholics in a small town in the west.

    It’s been here for about 6 or 7 years and is magnificently run. Thereve been about half a dozen incidents in that time where he guards have been involved, but besides that its fine. I’m sure property prices are down but no residents have ever had any problems from people stating there.

    Point being – these places can be run properly, can be totally safe for neighbors, and at the end of the day they save lives. Dublins different with the amount of drug use obviously, but the more genuine, well resourced places ye have the quicker ye can fix this.

  17. Retail Hell

    Who objected to the Simon Communitys application?
    was the letter signed by the objectors, were they a group of businesses or individuals,
    I work in the area & would gladly remove my business form those who objected?

    Could they be shamed into removing there objection, if named?

    1. Adam Ó Braonáin

      If you go to the original blog, linked at the bottom the article, a link is provided where you can view the objections on pages 2 and 3 of the view documents tab, just double click on each one and a link opens where you will be able to see the signatory.

    2. Rep

      You want to shame people into not wanting having a methadone and needle exchange clinic beside them? Wow, how dare people have a different opinion to you.

  18. Green Fingered

    Maybe the City Gardai should patrol the liffey boardwalk instead, where drugs are sold openly. Or Merrion Square Park where users shoot up in the shrubberies feet away from the children’s playground leaving their needles to be cleaned up by the park staff. God forbid anyone might object to this kind of behaviour or not welcome it into their area. The people who openly disregard the laws of the land have somehow become the victims while property/ business owners are demonised. So yeah lets all boycott businesses in the area and put more people on the live register because that’s going to solve the problem.

  19. Mani

    The HSE needs to take the bull by the horns and show people how to make their own methadone.

    ‘Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Give a man methadone who gives a sh1t about fish where’s my gear?’

  20. Disgrace

    This is the city’s south Georgian core, an area of world importance and a candidate for UNESCO world heritage status – we should be scrutinizing everything that is proposed in the area, and ensuring that the fabric and history of the place is respected, as well as doing what’s best for those in need.

    Fitzwilliam St and Merrion Square are the not exactly overrun with addicts and homeless people, so why set up there? The vast majority of drugs users who flood the city centre daily, come from the suburbs – so this is where their services should be.

    I live a few doors down from a ‘wet hostel’ and can safely say that the area is in bits because of it. There’s dozens of people drinking, al fresco, every day. They fight, they vomit, they puke and they urinate, everywhere – and this is all slap-bang next to one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. But, it’s not just them, they’re joined regularly by others from outside the area and it’s nothing short of a mess.

    Start building these facilities in the addicts local areas, and they’ll start to get the care they need, close to family and maybe even they can be protected from coming to worse harm as an anonymous city centre statistic

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