Narconon welcomes Court of Appeal ruling allowing drug rehabilitation centre to go ahead

Narconon Trust has welcomed the Court of Appeal's decision that allows its drug rehabilitation centre in Ballivor to go ahead but has not yet given a date for when it intends to open the controversial facility.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal upheld a decision of the High Court that An Bord Pleanála was incorrect in deciding that the facility at Ballivor requires planning permission for a change of use from the permitted nursing home to a drug treatment centre on the site of the former Ballivor National School.

Sheila Maclean of Narconon Trust said they were "delighted" with the Court of Appeal decision.

"Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal have now confirmed the 2016 Section 5 declaration of Meath County Council stands as valid. Both courts found there has been no change in planning facts or circumstances since the 2016 declaration. Ms Justice Caroline Costello described, in the main judgment, that the 2018 referral for another Section 5 declaration outside of the proper procedures was an 'impermissible attack' on the initial declaration. This clarifies the matter for all concerned."

She added that the case along with the ongoing pandemic had delayed the opening of the centre but the delay had given them the "opportunity to get in touch with numerous local residents and indeed address their questions and concerns".

"Following meetings and discussions over the past two years, the attitude we meet today in Ballivor is very different from the initial misinformed emotional response, a lot of which was stirred up by people who have nothing to do with either Ballivor or drug rehabilitation efforts, as we have come to learn.

"We have found people in Ballivor to be very genuine, open, curious about the project and supportive of our intention to assist people in need of drug rehabilitation."

No timeframe has yet been given on when Narconon intends to open its €9m drugs rehab facility in Ballivor with Ms Maclean outlining that the Covid pandemic was the next "obstacle" they would need to overcome.

"The pandemic and the Covid-19 scene worsening in Ireland at the moment is the next obstacle we would need to overcome, like many other projects and organisations at this stage. In view of the latest developments on this, it is difficult to predict at the moment when exactly will we be able to open the facility for use. At the same time, we are very conscious of the devastating drug problem which has worsened during the pandemic and the urgent need of rehab facilities."