Opposition to HSE plan to re-locate methadone clinic
A HSE plan to re-locate a methadone clinic from Grogan's Road in Wexford to its former office building in George's Street, is running into difficulty with residents and councillors.
After meeting with local residents, Labour councillor George Lawlor said he will be objecting to a planning application by the HSE for the retention of a change of use permission at the George's Street premises and is urging others to do the same.
Cllr. Lawlor raised the issue at a District Council meeting, telling councillors and officials that this is the 'wrong location' for a methadone service. 'It's on the side of the street in a residential area. To be fair to people living in the area and to be fair to service users, it should not be located there. It should be in the new Primary Care Centre in Grogan's Road.', he said.
The Wexford methadone clinic, offering a prescription service, opened eight years ago in the old County Clinic in Grogan's Road which was due to be demolished this week as it has been replaced by a brand new Primary Care Centre built beside it. Up to then, many heroin users had to travel to Waterford or Dublin to attend a GP and receive a prescription for methadone. A number of local pharmacies have been providing a methadone dispensing in Wexford for many years. 'I am very much in favour of the service. I supported it being opened in Grogan's road several years ago. It is a very necessary service. It has worked very well there to the benefit of everyone', said Cllr. Lawlor. 'I will be lodging my own objection to the change of use application at George's Street and I would urge others to do the same. They are not changing the use of the building for nothing. I know that some of the local residents will also be objecting to the planning permission', he said. The HSE has applied to Wexford County Council for planning permission to retain a change of use of the 671.6 square metres premises from a bank to a health services building along with a new extension consisting of a lift shaft ovr three floors and external signage.
Independent councillor David Hynes, a Council representative on the South East Drugs Task Force who has worked as a counsellor with the families of drug addicts, said he is concerned about a backlash against the methadone service as a result of the controvery over its proposed re-location to George's Street.
'The methadone service was started in Wexford eight years ago and up to then people had to travel to Dublin or Waterford every week. It took a big effort to get it established. It was done in such a way that there was no public negativity about it at the time', said Cllr. Hynes.
'I'm afraid that this whole thing is being handled in the wrong way and I'm concerned there will be a backlash against the service which is very badly needed' said Cllr. Hynes, adding that he doesn't see why it has to be re-located from Grogan's Road.
'There is absolutely no need to re-locate it in my opinion', said Cllr. Hynes, adding that he intends raising the matter at the next meeting of the Drugs Task Force which was not informed of the proposal in advance.