Press Release

Merchants Quay Ireland Launches 2021 Annual Review

MQI launches 2021 Annual Review, citing 18% increase in demand


Merchants Quay Ireland, the national homeless and addiction charity, has today launched its 2021 Annual Review, warning that as the housing crisis worsens, more people are becoming stuck in homelessness for longer.

In 2021, the charity, which operates in Dublin, on the East Coast, in the Midlands, and in Cavan and Monaghan, supported a total of 11,621 clients across its services. This is an 18% increase on the previous year.

MQI CEO Paula Byrne says:

‘In addition to the number of newly homeless people seeking our support rising by 29% in 2021 – soaring property prices, limited rental opportunities and insufficient social housing are making it increasingly difficult for people to move out of homelessness. While the priority for all of us must be to reduce the number of people who are homeless, we cannot ignore the brutal reality that more people are becoming homeless for longer. In recognition of the changing needs of our clients, Merchants Quay has developed day services for vulnerable groups, specifically young people and women.’


The charity this year developed its Young Person Creative Empowerment Programme, aimed at supporting people between the ages of 18 and 25, as well as establishing a new gender-specific service, Jane’s Place, in response to the needs of women in homelessness and addiction.

In addition, MQI is highlighting the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of its clients and calling for the continued investment in mental health supports for people in homelessness and addiction, as levels of addiction continue to rise.

Byrne said:

‘There was a significant increase in demand across the spectrum of our addiction services in 2021. As well as increased demand for our detox and rehab services, demand for harm reduction services rose by 27% in Dublin alone. The sheer number of people seeking our services is a clear indication of the urgent need for further investment in treatment options such as stabilisation, detox and rehab throughout the country. We know that with access to the right supports, people can and do recover.’


Launching the report today, Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said:

“The next 12 months are crucial in tackling the homelessness and drug issue that we have across the country.  There are identifiable solutions that are the responsibility of everybody in government working towards an end to homelessness and an end to the scourge of addiction that is costing so many lives and causing so much misery.”




Notes to the editor:

About Merchants Quay Ireland

Merchants Quay Ireland is the national charity working with people who are homeless and in addiction. The organisation provides services ranging from open access crisis intervention and health promotion services to day-support programmes, residential treatment, detox, and prison counselling.


MQI Annual Review 2021 Key Statistics

  • 11,621 unique clients were supported across all services, an 18% increase in demand for MQI services.
  • There was a 55% increase in Q4 of 2021 in people presenting as newly homeless.
  • 33,254 meals were provided to clients.
  • 10,045 interventions were provided to 2,015 unique clients by our primary healthcare service (GP, nursing team, dentist, mental health team).
  • MQI facilitated 49,448 interventions in our Dublin needle exchange and harm reduction service, a 27% increase from 2020.
  • 142 unique clients were admitted for our detox and rehab facilities, with 116 clients completing treatment.
  • In the Midlands, MQI provided drug and alcohol treatment and support to 702 people.
  • 209 people supported by our East Coast Service, a significant increase on last year’s 130.
  • 308 people were supported by MQI CAMDAS in Cavan and Monaghan.
  • 270 young people between 18-24 supported by MQI last year with 129 young people supported by our Young Person Support team.
  • 1,930 unique clients supported with in-prison counselling interventions.
  • 5% increase in the use of both cocaine and heroin across all addiction services.

Our full Annual Review can be accessed here.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Laura McDowell

Communications Officer

086 779 3206

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