Thursday 19 September 2019

Madigan blasted over 'no methadone clinic' letter

Denial: Culture Minister Josepha Madigan’s spokesman said she had not approved the letter. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Denial: Culture Minister Josepha Madigan’s spokesman said she had not approved the letter. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Minister Josepha Madigan has been branded a "disgrace" after a letter was sent to her constituents hailing confirmation a methadone clinic won't be located in their area.

The Culture Minister last night moved to distance herself from the letter, with her spokesman saying the wording was not approved by Ms Madigan before it was sent.

But she sustained heavy Opposition criticism for the update to constituents which says: "Confirmed - No methadone clinic in Ballinteer".

The letter, in Ms Madigan's name, reads: "I am pleased to reassure local residents that following representations from my office to the Department of Health, I have been informed that a new methadone clinic will not be developed at the Ballinteer Health Centre as the existing services are adequate."

It adds: "I know many people were concerned about this prospect following the closure of the methadone clinic in Baggot Street."

The letter also says: "This health centre is used by many local residents and would not be suitable as a methadone clinic."

Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin last night claimed the minister was "a disgrace".

He claimed "once again she is celebrating the lack of services for vulnerable people in her local area in her circular."

That is a reference to Ms Madigan's controversial leaflet on Traveller accommodation before the 2014 local elections.

Mr Ó Ríordáin asked: "Does she genuinely believe that no local residents have drug problems?"

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy claimed the letter is "quite disgusting and demonstrates typical Fine Gael snobbery".

He added: "Unfortunately she has form for this, in a previous newsletter referring to a proposed halting site for Travellers as a 'waste of precious resources'."

Ms Madigan has previously insisted she is not anti-Traveller and said the council was proposing to house only four families on land worth millions.

Her spokesman insisted she "fully supports the provision of health services... including methadone services for those requiring them in their community." He said the issue had been raised with her by constituents and she asked the HSE to clarify its plans.

He said the "letter to constituents - the wording of which did not receive her prior approval before sending - provides an update on the issue".

Irish Independent

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