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“By every measure, the homeless crisis is worsening” – Merchants Quay Ireland launches 2018 Annual Review

“By every measure, the homeless crisis is worsening” – Merchants Quay Ireland launches 2018 Annual Review


By every measure, the homelessness and addiction crisis is worsening, Merchants Quay Ireland warned today.

The homelessness and addiction charity’s 2018 Annual Review, launched today by Minister for Health Simon Harris, shows that 11,301 people accessed its services last year, a 9% increase on the previous year.

MQI’s emergency shelter saw over 2,000 people, an 11% increase on the previous year, and there was increased demand for MQI’s health, harm reduction, and case management services.

MQI’s Annual Review also shows that in 2018:

  • MQI’s Riverbank Centre provided 102,658 meals to people who were homeless and hungry
  • There were 3,329 visits to the MQI’s nursing team, more than double the previous year’s number
  • There was a 6% increase in clients using MQI’s health promotion unit to minimise risk of drug use and access pathways into treatment
  • 169 people were provided accessible treatment through MQI’s detox and rehab services

In launching the Annual Review, the charity called for a range of measures to help tackle the homeless and addiction crisis:

  • Additional investment in both residential and community detox
  • Increased supported housing for people who are leaving drug treatment
  • Additional support for people leaving care at risk of homelessness or addiction
  • Increased targeted support for women facing homelessness and addiction
  • Continued commitment from the Government for the delivery of a Medically Supervised Injecting Facility in Dublin

Speaking at the launch of the report, Merchants Quay Ireland Chief Executive Paula Byrne said:

“Homelessness and addiction on Irish streets are increasingly being seen as normal. In the last two weeks, several lives have been lost on our streets. It is not enough to call it a tragedy and move on.

“In 2018, a record 11,301 people accessed our services, looking for food, shelter, and medical care. By every measure, the crisis is worsening. The evidence is clear: we are losing ground on homelessness.

“Ireland also faces high levels of addiction. We currently have the fourth highest rate of drug-related deaths in Europe, and we are deeply concerned that in the coming years this figure could increase significantly.

“Merchants Quay Ireland is often the only door open to people who are marginalised and vulnerable. Homelessness is not just about a roof over your head. It is the anxiety, the depression, and the isolation that comes with that. Its effects are profound and long-lasting.

“Ireland is a wealthy country and has the capacity to address the homeless and addiction crisis. Every day at MQI, we see people overcome incredible obstacles and move on to have full and happy lives. It’s time for our political system to match that level of courage and determination.”

– ENDS –

For more information or to arrange an interview with our Chief Executive, Paula Byrne, please contact:

Tom Sheppard
Communications Co-Ordinator
Merchants Quay Ireland
T: 01 531 2958
M: 086 7793 206

Twitter: @MerchantsQuayIR


Notes to Editor

About MQI
Merchants Quay Ireland is a leading Irish charity working with people who are homeless and people who use drugs. The organisation provides services ranging from open access crisis intervention and health promotion services to day-support programmes, educational programmes, vocational training, residential treatment, detox and prison-based addiction counselling.

2018 Annual Review
The 2018 MQI Annual Review can be accessed here:

MQI Annual Review figures:

  • Riverbank Centre provided 102,658 meals in 2018
  • 4,868 visits to the GP in Merchants Quay Ireland
  • 3,329 visits to the MQI nursing team
  • 389 people supported by our mental health team
  • 30,068 needle exchange visits, providing harm reduction and safer injecting advice to people
  • 2,149 people supported through In-Prison Counselling
  • 706 people supported in the Midlands
  • 169 people accessed treatment through MQI’s detox and rehab services
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