December 12, 2022
Ana Liffey Drug Project celebrated its 40th year by holding a conference on Thursday 8th December in Dublin’s Radisson Blu Royal Hotel.
Speaking at the conference Minister Paschal Donohoe commended Ana Liffey Drug Project,
“I am acutely aware of the difficulties problematic drug use causes individuals, families and communities. Throughout its history, Ana Liffey has been creative and innovative in how it helps and supports all those impacted. I am delighted to be here today to mark the 40th Anniversary of Ana Liffey – a home grown response to Ireland’s drug problem and an organisation that has made a real positive difference to the lives of so many people in the North Inner City and elsewhere.”
As Tony Duffin CEO of Ana Liffey explained at the conference,
“The two themes of today’s conference are innovation and partnership. The title of our conference, “We are innovative”, is taken from Ana Liffey’s organisational values. Ana Liffey has a rich history of innovation; and the conference is filled with conversation on current and future innovations covering a range of topics – like the health impacts of crack cocaine use, preventing fatal overdose, supporting recovery and much more.
Since Ana Liffey’s inception we have recognised the need to work in partnership – with the people who use our services; with funders and donors; with statutory agencies and other NGOs; with third level institutions; and many other partners. We can’t do this work alone. I am happy to say that at today’s conference our partnership work is evident on the stage and in the audience.”
Ana Liffey was the first Irish service provider established on the principles of Harm Reduction. Ana Liffey is acknowledged and respected as an early responder, in Ireland, to the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the mid-1980s. Paving the way for a wider Harm Reduction response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the mid-1980’s in Ireland; which ultimately contributed to the reduction of the transmission of the then newly identified and frightening virus.
In the intervening decades – as Ireland’s drugs market grew – Ana Liffey has supported thousands of people experiencing a variety of complex issues; including problematic drug use; homelessness; physical health issues; mental health issues; and more besides.
In March 2020, Ana Liffey found themselves facing into the fear and uncertain permeating society as the COVID-19, global pandemic, took a grip on Ireland. The work that Ana Liffey’s team did during the COVID-19 crisis was a very brave effort. Ana Liffey were clear that their role was to stay out there and deliver services. Working in partnership with the HSE and others, in Dublin and Limerick, Ana Liffey adapted quickly to deliver much needed services. This partnership approach was successful – with severe illness and death reduced as a consequence.
The conference included presentations and panel discussions, on a range of topics, comprising of service users; peer workers; frontline workers; researchers and policy experts. With presentations on – the health impacts of crack cocaine use in Limerick City; supporting recovery; and decriminalisation advocacy efforts in five international jurisdictions. There were also panel discussions on health led approaches to people who use drugs; another about innovating to prevent fatal overdose; a panel which involved a discussion with Ana Liffey team members about delivering innovative services; and, finally, a panel discussion about meaningful participation of people who use drugs.
Also at the conference, a letter of congratulations from Ana Liffey’s Sole Patron, President Michael D Higgins, was read out; and Frank Feighan Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy sent a video message which was shown at the conference. You can watch Minister Feighan’s video here:
Photography by Craig Hardy