Facilities’ future to the fore at meeting

by Gazette Reporter

MORE than 100 residents, councillors and members of the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Ratepayers’ Association attended a public meeting on July 29 to discuss social problems surrounding a methadone clinic on Patrick Street.
The chairman of the association, Peter Kerrigan, said: “This debate was a fiery one. There has been a clinic there for so long, and all those people [clinic clients] amass in the one area.
“The key issue was why can’t there be dilution [of services]; why can’t they get their methadone at their local chemist?”
He went on to say that though many councillors turned up, no local TDs did, and no representatives of the HSE attended, even though they were invited.
A spokesperson from Dun Laoghaire Garda Station said gardai are looking at producing a working paper to bring in a system of swabbing addicts, instead of testing urine, in order to avoid urine switching.
Kerrigan added that the association, and local residents, want to know why the HSE did not show up, saying it was “a disgrace”.
At the meeting, Cllr Victor Boyhan (Ind) said: “The big disappointment was that the HSE failed to turn up, and I’d be highly critical of them.
“They have a commitment to engage with people about their services. The main thing that was discussed was we can’t have people parked [as indefinite users] on methadone.
“Drug addicts and their families need support in their respective communities. It must be acknowledged that there is a major drug problem in the county, not only in Dun Laoghaire.
“It is my view that the HSE has let down patients and families affected by drug addiction, and that the clinic is not fit for purpose,” said Cllr Boyhan.
Cllr Michael Merrigan (Ind), a member of the Drugs Task Force, said: “The meeting, though well attended, did not come to any resolution, unfortunately.
“The local monitoring committee set up to liaise with the residents’ association and businesses when the drug treatment clinic opened around 1999 has not met since 2003, so it has operated without any meaningful consultation with the local community for more than a decade, and it appears that there is little incentive for the HSE to actively engage with residents on the ongoing problems with this facility.”
Despite repeated attempts for comment from the HSE, The Gazette had not received a comment by the time of going to print.
Meanwhile, attendees also discussed the proposed closure of Dun Laoghaire court house.
Kerrigan said Keith Walsh, president of Dublin Solicitors’ Bar Association, along with local solicitor Johnathan Dunphy and Tom Ward, from the Courts Service, were in attendance.
He said: “In fairness to the Courts Service, they turned up, though everyone was against their agenda. They said the closure of Dun Laoghaire court house still wasn’t certain yet.”
The meeting followed a motion passed in early July in which councillors voted to keep Dun Laoghaire court house open.
Cllr Merrigan proposed the motion to stop the closure of the court house, which was unanimously adopted at the July council meeting. He said: “I was anxious to have cross-party and independents’ support for a motion condemning the proposed closure. and urging the Minister for Justice to immediately intervene to prevent the loss of our court house.”

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