Sunday 18 August 2019

Shane Ross criticised after highlighting 'no methadone clinic' in Ballinteer as Josepha Madigan deemed 'a disgrace'

Sports Minisiter Shane Ross. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Sports Minisiter Shane Ross. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

MINISTER Shane Ross is the latest minister to be criticised after highlighting the news that there will be no methadone clinic in Ballinteer.

It comes after fellow Dublin Rathdown TD and minister Josepha Madigan was blasted for a letter sent to her constituents  telling tat a methadone clinic won’t be located in their area.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy hit out at both ministers claiming their updates to constituents implied that such a clinic would be a "bad thing" and a "threat" to the community.

He told RTÉ Radio this was "wrong" for government ministers to do this. 

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

Mr Ross took to Facebook on July 19 in a post headed: "Update on methadone clinic in Ballinteer".

The Transport minister wrote: "With the imminent closure of Baggot Street methadone clinic, I  have received confirmation that existing services will be able to cater for all the needs in the area.

"Therefore there will be no new methadone clinic opening in Ballinteer."

This afternoon Minister Shane Ross said: “On a regular basis on my Facebook page I update constituents on information of interest to them.

Josepha Madigan letter
Josepha Madigan letter

“On 19 July last, after receiving ongoing requests for information from constituents regarding what impact the imminent closure of Baggot Street may have on the operation of a clinic in Ballinteer, I informed residents that existing methadone services will be able to cater for needs in the area and there will be no requirement for a methadone clinic in Ballinteer.

“It was an information update, a service I provide for my constituents.”

Culture Josepha Madigan was branded a “disgrace” after a letter was sent to her constituents hailing the news that there will be no methadone clinic.

The minister moved to distance herself from the letter, with her spokesperson saying the wording was not approved by Ms Madigan before it was sent.

But she sustained criticism from opposition politicians 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.

“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 claimed the minister was “a disgrace”.

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

This is a reference to Ms Madigan’s controversial leaflet on Traveller accommodation ahead of the 2014 Local Election.

Mr Ó Ríordáin also asks: “Does she genuinely believe that no local residents have drug problems? It says everything about Fine Gael’s approach to the drugs crisis.”

Solidarity TD Mr Murphy claimed the letter was “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 only proposing to house four families on land worth millions.

Her spokesman insisted that she “fully supports the provision of health services... including methadone services for those requiring them in their community.”

He added that 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”.

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