The Narconon centre in Ballivor beside the community garden

Residents concerns over controversial drug rehab centre bedrooms overlooking community garden

Concerned residents living in the shadow of a controversial new drug rehabilitation centre in rural Meath have voiced concerns that an accommodation wing of the facility that will house recovering addicts runs just feet away from a community garden used by children and families.

The new €5.6m Narconon centre in Ballivor which is nearing completion will house 34 'students' and 18 staff when fully utilised. 

Currently the controversial site is the subject of a judicial review brought by the Church of Scientology-linked Narconon Trust after An Bord Pleanala reversed a declaration by Meath County Council in 2016 that no change in planning permission was required for the site to be used as a residential drug rehabilitation facility. 

It was on that basis that Narconon Trust concluded the property was suitable for its use and it purchased it in December 2016. More than two years later, construction work on the building is nearly complete with the layout of the accommodation and proximity to the neighbouring community centre and the garden to the rear causing concern for locals.

The two properties are currently divided by a thin metal fence with the accommodation wing elevated over the community garden with floor to ceiling windows.

"The Community Garden has picnic tables and benches and chairs and it's a lovely space for the kids to play especially during the summer and the Narconon Centre is running all down the side of it with floor to ceiling clear glass windows that you can see into each and every bedroom. You are literaly only 8-10 feet away from where the kids play," says Claire O'Mara of the Ballivor Says No campaign.

"You can look straight in and see the en-suite doors, the lockers, the beds, the wardrobes the whole lot."

In a statement to the Meath Chronicle a spokesperson for Narconon was anxious to stipluate that the Narconon building is still a construction site. "Necessary measures to protect the privacy of students attending the Narconon Programme and their neighbours will be taken. At this time it is totally premature for anyone to comment on an unfinished building.

"Every detail has been taken into account to give Narconon students the stability, comfort and the best chance to free themselves from addiction and rebuild their lives without drugs.

"In a country where the drug crisis is exploding with 65% of professionals reporting some addiction experience, effective drug rehabilitation is urgently needed.

"Only individuals who are clearly opposed to salvaging people and their families from the scourges of drug and alcohol addiction could attempt to make an "issue" out of something as trivial as the opaqueness of windows during this unfinished construction phase.

It's understood that the windows of bedrooms will be 'frosted' ahead of the arrival of patients or 'students' as Narconon refer to them.

The judicial review into the planning decision of An Bord Pleanala is due for mention before the High Court on Tuesday (March 26th). An Bord Pleanala has asked for more time to file their defence at an earlier hearing on March 5th.