Call for NI commitment to addiction centre for Derry to be honoured

Derry & Strabane Council have called on the NI Executive to now move on establishing an addiction centre for Derry as committed to under the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 8:06 am

The call comes after Councillors agreed to an amendment to an earlier motion tabled by SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell on the issue.

That original proposal brought by Colr. Farrell to the Health & Communities committee meeting on February 11 read: “That this Council, in support of many families and communities in this district who have lost loved ones due to alcohol or substance addictions, calls on the NI Executive to immediately bring forward proposals for the capital and recurring resource funding of an addiction centre as outlined in New Decade New Approach.”

The motion also acknowledged “the need for NICE guidance NG65 on coexisting severe mental illness and substance misuse to be supported by fully funded community and social care services”, and sought an urgent meeting with relevant Executive Ministers to discuss how the addiction centre and service proposal “will fulfil the needs of our constituents”.

2017: Derry Detox campaign members Gavin Patton, George Cairns, (the late) Tomas O’ Tiomanaigh and Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh pictured at Pilots Row Centre, at the unveiling of a banner. DER3017GS094

An amendment to this was brought by Aontú Councillor Emmet Doyle to Full Council on Thursday last.

Speaking to members, Councillor Doyle said: “I’d like to say that the proposal at Health & Communities by Councillor Farrell is welcome, I believe it’s beneficial to our long term aims of addressing issues like detox services but I wanted to try and incorporate a wider framework that has been the focus of discussion by some other members and indeed raised at a public zoom meeting I held a while ago. 

“It would be my view that we have to expressly call for the Executive to move on the establishment of an addiction facility in the City and District as outline in New Decade New Approach. 

“It was raised in the Assembly a few weeks ago and the First Minister replied that those commitments required prioritisation, which is fair comment.  It’s for us to indicate that we prioritise this commitment. 

“In terms of the inclusion of the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidance, this reflects the need for us as a Council to determine that dual diagnosis is part of the solution to addiction and not just bricks and mortar.  The guidance outlines how clinicians address dual diagnosis and the requirement for this to be embedded in care pathways in primary social care as well as in the community, and that can only be done when specific funding is provided to enable it.  

“Lastly, I had contacted the Executive Office some time ago regarding the New Decade New Approach commitment on the addiction centre due to it possibly being cross-departmental but they have since indicated the matter is for the Health Minister alone, and I think we should be collectively imparting on the Minister how we see the addiction piece as part of the mental health emergency we recently declared, and to give the public that assurance that we are progressing in line with their expectations.”

All members were in agreeance and the amendment was passed unanimously.

The campaign for a Detox Centre has gathered new momentum due to a petition by local teenager Tamzin White who lost her mother Louise to addiction in January at the age of just 40.

By Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter