Pubdate: Thu, 5 Nov 1998
Source: An Phoblacht/Republican News
Author: Tara O'Liaith 

Emotions ran high in the Clan na Gael Fontenoy Hall on Tuesday as
residents protested against the methadone service being established in
their area. The Community Council of Ringsend/Irishtown in Dublin had
called yet another emergency meeting and this time James Conway of the
Eastern Health Board was present to answer questions from concerned
residents. Also present were Ray Keane of the EHB and Dr Angus O'Cassidy.

The EHB argued that they could guarantee that it would be a `satellite
service', set up only for addicts from the Ringsend/Irishtown
district, but the residents didn't seem convinced. The community have
been dealing with the EHB for the past two years in connection with
the area's drug problem and feel they have been led a merry dance at
this stage, from promises of a mobile unit to different numbers for
the clinic given to different groups who have inquired.

As if to calm the residents fears, the EHB got into semantics, stating
that `methadone clinic' was the wrong term to use, that it would be a
service for addicts from the locality to treat them.

The EHB has a statutory obligation to set up a service and one way or
another were going to do so in Ringsend. Once the community knew they
couldn't stop it, they decided to at least monitor it.

At the meeting a monitoring committee was set up to work alongside the
EHB, who gave the community a verbal guarantee that addicts will be
screened once a month and only addicts from the area will be treated.

One local young man urged the residents to give the clinic a chance
because from his own experience methadone is already being sold freely
in the area, he believes that this way methadone will be taken out of
the hands of dealers.

While the EHB is obliged to treat addiction from the medical point of
view, addiction is more than a medical problem, to give an addict a
substitute drug and expect him/her to control what they have no
control over, seems absurd. Perhaps the most important point of the
evening was made by a recovering addict who said ``These people (EHB)
are professionals at what they do, but I was a professional at what I

As Sinn Fein representative Daithi Doolan pointed out ``it needs to be
understood that methadone has a limited role, but not as part of a
longer maintainance or detox. Resources need to be put in place,
education, retraining, to make it a successful process. A proper Garda
response is needed to tackle dealers in the area and the response to
addiction needs to incorporate the user, the family and the
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Checked-by: Patrick Henry