Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has said that the Minister for Health must intervene to support community groups working with people in addiction in Louth.
Cllr Ó Murchú, who is Chairperson of Louth Drug and Alcohol Forum and has recently been appointed as a member of the North East Regional Drugs Task Force, made his remarks this afternoon following his attendance at a briefing in Leinster House by the North East Drugs Task Force.
Councillor Ó Murchú said,
“The reality is that the groups who attended the Dáil today are all experiencing severe funding shortfalls.
“Across the North East Region which encompasses Louth, Monaghan, Cavan and Meath, some groups are facing imminent closure unless the funding model is changed.
“They have no continuity of funding and are required to bid to the HSE annually.
“Typically, if they receive funding, it is allocated the same rate as the previous year which takes no account of the rising number of service users, rising rental and overhead costs and inflation.
“Staff in these community organisations do amazing and life changing work, yet their rate of pay, terms and conditions do not match HSE employed staff.
“Financially these groups are running to stand still by fundraising ever greater amounts and relying on the goodwill of volunteers.
“In Dundalk and other areas we are in an emergency regarding the level of drugs usage. This requires urgent government action.
“Louth based groups: The Red Door Project, Family Addiction Support Network, Turas and the Community Addiction Studies Course (CASC) all attended today’s meeting and I thank them for giving up their time and commend the work they are doing.
“These groups also reported that the level of participation on the Task Force by statutory agencies such as the HSE, Gardaí and Department of Education is reducing.
“The groups feel they are being disempowered in the decision making process.
“This must be addressed because the state agencies need the local knowledge that only those working at the coal face can provide.
“In follow up to today’s event a meeting with the Minister for Health and the Minister of State for Drugs will be requested and the Justice Committee will be making this issue a priority in the new year. “