Relief at Northlands funding reprieve

Health Minister Michelle ONeill (centre) pictured during her visit to Northlands Centre back in June 2016 with Maeve McLaughlin, Colr Elisha McCallion, Nuala Tracy, Mary Wilson, Denis Bradley, Kathleen Hegarty, Brian Hughes, Brian Doherty and Raymond McCartney MLA.  DER2616GS042

Health Minister Michelle ONeill (centre) pictured during her visit to Northlands Centre back in June 2016 with Maeve McLaughlin, Colr Elisha McCallion, Nuala Tracy, Mary Wilson, Denis Bradley, Kathleen Hegarty, Brian Hughes, Brian Doherty and Raymond McCartney MLA. DER2616GS042

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The Director of the Northlands Centre has welcomed amove by Health Minister Michelle O’Neill which removes the threat of imminent closure from the facility.

Minister O’Neill, who met with staff and users at Northlands last year and listened to their concerns first hand, has now suspended the phasing out of Core Funding grants across Northern Ireland.

Northlands Chief Executive Declan Doherty, Board Member Kathleen Harrigan, Company Secretary Mairead Grant and Chairman of the Board Brian Hegarty pictured outside the Council Chamber back in July.

Northlands Chief Executive Declan Doherty, Board Member Kathleen Harrigan, Company Secretary Mairead Grant and Chairman of the Board Brian Hegarty pictured outside the Council Chamber back in July.

Northlands had previously received cross-party support from the local Council after warning that the plan to cut the grant aid would have placed the future of the alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility in real jeopardy.

Northlands Centre Director Declan Doherty said however: “Whilst the Minister’s decision has averted a crisis in the short term, there are still important issues which need to be addressed by the Department of Health to ensure the longer-term sustainability of Northlands’ work.

“In the meantime, Northlands would like to thank all of those who have helped to bring matters, at least for now, to a generally more positive place.

“We would like to thank the very large number of people who attended the public meeting called by Northlands on June 2, 2016; the political parties in the Derry and Tyrone area (Sinn Fein, SDLP, DUP, UUP, PBP, Independents); the councillors of Derry City and Strabane District Council who received a deputation from Northlands on July 19, 2016.

“The unswerving support of all these people has helped to bring about this important intervention by the Health Minister. We thank them, one and all.”

Northlands opened in Derry in 1975 and deals with around 600 people a year facing addiction issues each year.