Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Omission of Cuan Mhuire from addiction information booklet prompts angry reaction

A glossy booklet recently produced by the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) and the Southern Health and Social Services Trust (SHSST) detailing alcohol and drug support services in the district has prompted anger at its omission of any mention of Cuan Mhuire, the area’s leading centre for addiction rehabilitation.

The booklets covering the Newry and Mourne area and Down district provide information of services available to those seeking help and support to deal with alcohol and drug addiction.  However the glaring omission of the Cuan Mhuire Addiction Centre – the country’s largest voluntary provider of rehabilitation treatment for those suffering from varying addictions – has led to a backlash from some closely associated with its work.

Just last month, Newry Mourne and Down District Council hosted a reception to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Newry’s Cuan Mhuire centre, which is located on the Dublin Road in Newry, and lauded the efforts of its founder Sr. Consilio.  Cuan Mhuire,  now the Council has been accused of merely “paying lip service” to the renowned facility.

Defending the decision to omit Cuan Mhuire services from the booklet, a spokesperson said the publication provides information solely on government-funded services, ie NHS regional treatment units.

Responding to The Examiner, the spokesperson said: “PCSP acknowledges and admires the work of Cuan Mhuire and the many other agencies and organisations working on issues of drugs and alcohol throughout the district.  However this leaflet, produced in partnership with Southern and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trusts, only details services funded as regional treatment units.”

This response has been described as “feeble and insulting” by Bessbrook man, Pat McGinn, a former Sinn Fein councillor and one of many to successfully complete Cuan Mhuire’s rehabilitation programme.

Now an active promoter and volunteer with the charity, Mr McGinn says he is disgusted that its exceptional services have not been mentioned in the booklet.

Revealing that a PCSP representative told him it while it has “great respect” for the service Cuan Mhuire delivers, as it is not funded by the Southern Trust, it did not merit a mention in the addiction information booklet.

“Newry, Mourne and Down Policing and Community Safety Partnership stated that the ‘Addiction Information’ booklet prepared by them to inform the people of Newry, Mourne and Down about help they can access in relation to addiction, wasn’t really prepared by them, but by one of the other Agency “partners”, the Southern Trust HSCT which gave them the data of local service providers,” Mr McGinn said.

“Because the service provided by Cuan Mhuire (which they all have the greatest of respect for) isn’t funded by the Southern Trust (a damning statement in itself), it didn’t merit being put in a glossy information booklet, which was meant to give support to the suffering addict and their families and communities.

“This excuse is misleading, feeble and insulting.  Another classic example of ‘joined up’ strategies by departments and agencies tackling the scourge and consequences of addiction.  I see why our most vulnerable, those mostly in need, are lying and dying on our streets.

“Cuan Mhuire and its founder Sr Consilio celebrated 50 years of giving love, care and support to the people of Ireland. Newry, Mourne & Down Council recognised this with a recent civic reception.  Unfortunately all the above has been ignored by those involved with this publication.  A shame and a disgrace and a reflection I believe on the [lack of] seriousness behind this publication to addressing the issue of alcohol and drug harm and support provided. This is exactly what it is – just another publication lacking sincerity,” he added angrily.