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Saturday 24 August 2019

Ross latest minister criticised over drug centre 'stigmatising'

Minister Shane Ross. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Minister Shane Ross. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Ministers have been accused of "stigmatising" people with addictions after they highlighted the news that a methadone clinic will not be opening in their south Dublin constituency.

Transport Minister and Independent Alliance TD Shane Ross has been criticised after he posted an update online on the issue.

It comes after his cabinet colleague and Fine Gael constituency rival, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, was blasted for a letter sent to constituents telling them there will not be a methadone clinic in their area.

Solidarity TD Paul Murphy last night claimed both ministers had welcomed news that health services would not be accessible to their constituents.

He also said that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had previously opposed a methadone service in his own constituency.

Mr Varadkar reportedly organised opposition to a methadone dispensing unit in Castleknock while he was a councillor in the area.

"It all adds to the stigmatisation of those with addiction problems," Mr Murphy said.

On July 19, Mr Ross wrote on Facebook: "With the imminent closure of Baggot Street methadone clinic, I have received confirmation that existing services will be able to cater for all the needs in the area. Therefore there will be no new methadone clinic opening in Ballinteer."

Last night, a source close to Mr Ross denied he had welcomed the news.

In a statement, Mr Ross said he had received requests for information and described the post as an "update, a service I provide for my constituents".

Ms Madigan's spokesperson has said the wording of her letter was not approved by Ms Madigan before it was sent.

Lobby

Her spokesman said Ms Madigan "fully supports the provision of health services".

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

On his opposition to a methadone clinic in his constituency, he said he agreed with suggestions that people need such services in their own communities.

"There are a lot of GP practices and pharmacies in my constituencies providing methadone and always have been."

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