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Locals turn out in numbers to protest proposed drug rehab centre in Co Meath

The new Narconon centre in the rural village of Ballivor has been linked with the Church of Scientology.

BALLIVOR PROTEST 758A3015_90534489 Protesters at the former national school in Ballivor this afternoon Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

LOCALS HAVE TURNED out in significant numbers in Co Meath to protest the proposed establishment of a drug rehabilitation centre locally, which has been linked with the Church of Scientology.

The proposed Narconon centre in Ballivor, a rural village located close to the Westmeath border, which is understood to be slated to begin operations next May on the site of a former national school, was picketed this afternoon by around 200 locals.

Narconon centres worldwide run a ‘secularised adaptation’ of the Church of Scientology’s ‘purification rundown’ – the first step on Scientology’s ‘Bridge to Total Freedom’.

The Church of Scientology has previously denied any connection with the running of such a centre.

BALLIVOR PROTEST 758A3033_90534488 The newly constructed extension to the old national school in Ballivor Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

17/1/2018 Anti Scientology and Narconon Protests Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Local TD Peadar Tóibín said today that the Department of Health had confirmed to him that there are currently no provisions in Ireland’s existing legislation to regulate such residential treatment or rehabilitation centres specialising in addiction.

“There is significant opposition and concern in Meath that this unregulated facility could negatively impact on local people,” Tóibín said this evening.

The Department of Health also stated to me that organisations which provide addiction services and are funded by the HSE are required to meet minimum standards in the delivery of services across a range of criteria which form the basis of any service level agreement.

BALLIVOR PROTEST 758A3006_90534490 Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

“It appears that anyone can set up a residential treatment facility without accreditation and regulation in Ireland at the moment. To me this is a major gap in the state’s responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people,” he added.

Present on the protest were anti-Scientology and autism activist Fiona O’Leary, and local woman Susan Davis. A further meeting is planned to be held on the matter this evening in the locality.

“It was incredible,” O’Leary told TheJournal.ie regarding the protest. “The locals were on fire. You have to remember this isn’t just about Ireland, it’s about Europe as well.”

Davis meanwhile acknowledged that until a couple of weeks ago she had had little awareness about the Church of Scientology but has spent that time reading up on everything she could.

“It went very well,” she said of today’s protest. “Given so many people were in work.”

“We don’t want to stop until this thing is sorted,” she said.

I don’t see how this centre is going to benefit this community at all.

A comment on this matter has been requested from the Church of Scientology.

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