Leading Drug Treatment Centre Fears Further Funding Cuts

As a further indication of the tight times in which the Irish community and voluntary sector is operating, Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), Ireland’s largest drug-treatment centre, has expressed concern that it is facing cuts in State funding. This is despite the fact that it is currently facing significantly increased demands for its services.

Already this year Merchants Quay has endured a 1% cut in funding from the HSE whilst also experiencing a 5% rise in running costs. The recently launched MQI annual review indicates that in 2007 1,333 new clients used the organisation’s needle-exchange service. Overall the annual report makes clear that the numbers of people seeking help from Merchants Quay has risen by over a third.

Speaking at the launch of the annual report, Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland, said; “From the vantage point of 2008 and the climate of economic downturn and recession I am fearful that Government may be too much focussed on the short term need to make savings. Investment in services will lead to much greater savings in the long run. We have spent the last decade addressing a crisis that was created by a failure to invest in vital social services in the 1980s. It would be a tragedy if the same mistakes were to be made in the current recession. In attacking the current financial crisis the Government must make sure that services for vulnerable people are protected and developed. Any attack on services for the poorest people in society is an attack on society itself”.

If you would like further information about the Merchants Quay Ireland annual report, please contact Denisa Casement on 01- 604 0082 denisa.casement@mqi.ie