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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Methadone clinics in row 'not my call,' says Harris

Mr Harris said:
Mr Harris said: "The location of clinics is decided by the HSE, not by the Department of Health or any minister."

Health Minister Simon Harris has rowed in to the debate over the provision of methadone clinics, saying their location is not decided by his department but by the HSE.

He was speaking after Culture Minister Josepha Madigan was branded a "disgrace" after a letter was sent to her constituents hailing the news there will be no methadone clinic in Ballinteer.

Transport Minister Shane Ross was also criticised after highlighting the news there will be no methadone facility in the south Dublin suburb.

Threat

Asked yesterday about the provision of methadone clinics and the differences in opinion among politicians on them, Mr Harris said: "The location of clinics is decided by the HSE, not by the Department of Health or any minister.

"They will continue to be provided right across the country to provide services to people," he added.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy has hit out at ministers Ms Madigan and Mr Ross, claiming their updates to constituents implied that such a clinic would be a "bad thing" and a "threat" to the community.

He claimed Ms Madigan's letter was "quite disgusting and demonstrates typical Fine Gael snobbery".

Labour Party senator Aodhan O Riordain claimed Ms Madigan was "a disgrace".

He accused the minister of "celebrating the lack of services for vulnerable people in her local area in her circular".

"Does she genuinely believe that no local residents have drug problems?" Mr O Riordain asked.

"It says everything about Fine Gael's approach to the drugs crisis."

Ms Madigan's spokesperson insisted earlier this week that the wording of her letter was not approved by the minister before it was sent to constituents.

The letter said she was pleased to "reassure" residents that a new methadone clinic would not be developed in Ballinteer.

The spokesperson also insisted that she "fully supports the provision of health services, including methadone services, for those requiring them in their community".

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he had not spoken to Ms Madigan but added: "My understanding is she didn't lobby against the methadone clinic."

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