A protest against the controversial drug rehabilitation centre currently under construction by Narconon in Ballivor was held in the village this afternoon.
The 'Ballivor Says No' group organised the protest to reiterate their opposition to Narconon's proposed the drug rehab centre on the site of the former national school and to once again call for the Government to bring forward legislation to regulate drug rehabilitation centres here. Narconon which is linked to the Church of Scientology has come in for strong criticism for its controversial methods which utilise saunas and high doses of vitamins in its treatment.
Signs warning of surveillance cameras on the large hoardings at the site
A large crane is now on the site and the construction work is well under way on the building.
An Bord Pleanala has not yet ruled on two section five applications submitted challenging Meath County Council's view that a change of use was not required for a drug treatment centre. The existing planning permission is for a nursing home.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín who attended the protest said he learned today that the Fine Gael government has refused to regulate residential drug rehabilitation centres such the one currently under construction by the Church of Scientology linked Narconon in Ballivor.
Peadar Toibin joined the protest today in Ballivor.
In response to a number of meetings between the Minister for Drugs Catherine Byrne and Deputy Tóibín, a letter was issued by the department to the Meath deputy which states that "there is no provision for legislation for the regulation or inspection of residential treatment or rehabilitation centres specialising in addiction". It also stated that the Department of Health is not considering the inclusion of residential drug addiction treatment centres under the remit of HIQA.
Attending the demonstration in Ballivor today against the unregulated service, Deputy Tóibín stated in response that this is the wrong decision by the government and described it as "a dereliction of duty of care of addicts who are among the the most vulnerable in society".
"The department is already on the record in a response to a parliamentary question of mine stating it that there is no evidence as to the efficacy of the service provided by the Church of Scientology.
An artist's impression of how the new facility will look after completion
"People in the grip of addiction are among the most defenceless in our society. Over 80 per cent of people presenting with Substance Abuse suffer with anxiety, depression and have backgrounds of trauma. That the door could be wide open for their exploitation is a dereliction of duty by the state. This gap needs to fill immediately. Right now anyone can open a residential drug rehabilitation centre today and deliver any service they like without any regulation.
"Unsurprisingly there is also widespread worries in the Ballivor community as to the dangers of this service and its effect on the community. I am calling on the Minister to reconsider her decision or my office will have to draft legislation to fix this glaring gap in the states duty of care. Myself and Cllr Caroline Lynch will continue to work with the community and pressure the authorities to fulfill their responsibilities to the people of Ballivor."