'This is not something scary, it will bring a benefit to the community'

After months of speculation that Narconon was planning to open a drug rehabilitation centre in Ballivor, the Narconon Trust finally broke its silence in March 2018 when a delegation visited the Meath Chronicle offices in Navan.

It was just a week after Narconon finally confirmed that it planned to open a drug treatment centre on the site of the former national school, despite rumours circulating for many months that it was on the cards.

The group which visited this newspaper’s office included Ms Janet Laveau, (Managing Director at Church Of Scientology), Linda Alred, Social Betterment Director at Narconon, PR consultant Kieran O'Byrne and Brian McWeeney, programme graduate and rehabilitation secretary for Ballivor.

They outlined that the centre would accommodate 34 recovering addicts and 18 staff and they claimed that the centre would be worth €800,000 per year to the local community. When challenged on why it had taken until now to reveal its plans, Ms Laveau said they “weren't finished on the planning and that was really the simplicity of it”.

Giving their reasons on why they chose Ballivor, Ms Laveau said: “We were searching with different estate agents and it was the right size and had the correct zoning and was conveniently located in a central location. We had found another location down in Cork but that was a problem because it was way down the bottom and was not very accessible. Here gave us somewhere that we could easily get to. “It’s also an idyllic rural setting. People want to get out of the environment that they are in because they know they are vulnerable to temptation on one hand and on the other hand you have people who don’t want everyone to know.”

Ms Laveau has openly admitted they were taken aback by the level of resistance to their plans. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life. Never, I’ve been working with Narconon since the early 80s and I’ve never personally experienced anything but complete acceptance because the programme makes so much sense to people.”

She claimed a lot of the concerns were being created by a few individuals.

"We’re willing to talk to people, we want to brief them, we want to let them know that this is not something scary or that it’s not going to bring a benefit to the community.”