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Taoiseach asked to send 'message of support' to Meath village worried about 'Scientology centre'

A protest is planned for tomorrow in Ballivor, where it is claimed that the movement will offer access to its ‘Narconon’ detox programme.

A protest in October of last year held at the new European base for Scientology based at Firhouse in Dublin. Now locals in Ballivor have raised concerns the movement is opening a centre in their village.
A protest in October of last year held at the new European base for Scientology based at Firhouse in Dublin. Now locals in Ballivor have raised concerns the movement is opening a centre in their village.
Image: RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO Varadkar was asked today in the Dáil about reports that the Church of Scientology is to establish a Narconon drug rehab centre in the village of Ballivor, County Meath.

The programme has not thus far been available in Ireland, although the movement is offering a ‘purification’ service at its centre in Firhouse, Dublin, which carries a price tag of €1,500. A recent report by TheJournal.ie  heard from a HSE expert who criticised elements of the detox programme as having ‘no medical standing’ within the medical community.

However, the Meath Chronicle reports that concerns have been raised locally that the more intensive Narconon programme would be offered at a site in Ballivor, and a public meeting was held in the village before Christmas.

A protest against the development is planned tomorrow afternoon in the village, with another public meeting to follow that evening.

Fianna Fáil’s Meath TD Shane Cassells raised the issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil this afternoon. He said:

The programme for Government committed the Government to a new national drugs strategy, which the Taoiseach launched last summer. He said at the launch that the treatment of abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue “helps communities”.
I ask him whether the small rural community of Ballivor in County Meath will be helped by the attempt from the Church of Scientology to establish a Narconon drug programme in an old national school in their tiny village and, furthermore, whether this cult’s wacky drug rehabilitation programme is legally permitted to operate in this State.
I also ask whether the Taoiseach would like to send a message of support, both as Taoiseach and as a doctor, to the concerned parents who will protest outside the school tomorrow at 2pm petrified for the safety of their children in the town of Ballivor.

The Taoiseach replied:

I have read a little about this in the newspapers but I do not know all the details or all the facts. I would be absolutely of the view that the only people who should provide services with respect to addiction are people who are appropriately qualified and appropriately licensed to do so. On occasion, those services can be provided by religious groups, and I know a number of Catholic religious groups provide alcohol counselling services and do so very well.

Cassells asked again: “Is this legally permitted?”

“No matter what background they come from, it is essential these services are only provided by people who are qualified and legally permitted to do so,” concluded the Taoiseach.

HSE warns that elements of Scientology detox have ‘no basis’ in scientific fact>

Garda urged community groups to distribute Scientology-backed materials at anti-drug meeting>

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