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Religious ministry defends drug rehab programme

An RTÉ Investigations Unit look at the work of Victory Outreach will be broadcast on Prime Time tonight.

Image: Drugs via Shutterstock

A RELIGIOUS MINISTRY that offers recovery services to drug addicts has defended itself as RTÉ’s prepares to air an investigation into its work.

Victory Outreach, which describes itself as a ‘sustainable transformational ministry’, was founded in 1967 and has over 700 centres and churches worldwide.

It has five centres around Ireland. This evening, Prime Time will air an investigation into the work that Victory Outreach does with drug addicts at its recovery homes.

RTÉ Investigations Unit said it is examining how “vulnerable addicts are working up to 18 hours a day, for no pay”, to raise money for Victory Outreach.

On Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio today, reporter Brian O’Connell spoke about the investigation.

There are an estimated 20,000 heroin addicts in Ireland, but just one professionally supervised detox bed for every 400 addicts in Dublin.

Investigation

The investigation examines how at Victory Outreach’s recovery homes, addicts come off drugs and do not go onto substitutes such as methadone.

There is generally no waiting list for Victory Outreach’s services, said O’Connell, and it is “a nine- to 12-month programme”.

It has a disciplined religious side to it and the recovery centres are not regulated rehabilitation centres.

The investigation alleges that residents are sent out fundraising, such as selling raffle tickets. O’Connell claimed that the programme will show addicts fundraising, “some at 18 hours at a time”.

Stuart Murphy, a spokesperson from Victory Outreach’s Dublin centre, told TheJournal.ie this morning that the show is “focusing on people that have left the recovery centre and they have personal things against the place”.

Murphy said that he had explained to RTÉ that the fundraisers do not fundraise from 7am, as alleged, and that when they leave early they have breakfast before fundraising; and they finish at 9 or 10pm and have something to eat before returning to the centre.

Murphy said he has been in contact with RTÉ during this process and has “offered hundreds of people whose lives have [been] changed” by Victory Outreach to the broadcaster.

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He said that the organisation helped him in his recovery from drugs and through the loss of his father and brother. “RTÉ are coming from the negative perspective,” he alleged.

When asked about regulation, Murphy said that “we have policies that are set in place by Victory Outreach International” and the people working with drug addicts have gone through similar experiences.

Of regulation, he added “we are ready to do [it] without breaching our values”.

Murphy said RTÉ wrote to Victory Outreach and gave them right of reply. RTÉ gave the organisation five days to compose such a reply. He said he wanted to give his story on his terms and felt Victory Outreachweren’t given [a] proper way to defend themselves”.

Victory Outreach will review the show when it airs tonight and is expected to decide if it will be taking legal action.

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