Derry City Council never 
called for detox centre facility

SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey presenting the 48,000 signature petition for a detox facility in Derry to Assembly Speaker William Hay back in May 2014.
SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey presenting the 48,000 signature petition for a detox facility in Derry to Assembly Speaker William Hay back in May 2014.

DERRY City Council failed to make any contribution towards consultation on the siting of detox and addiction facilities, despite a growing campaign in the city at the time.

The current Derry City & Strabane District Council confirmed to the ‘Journal’ this week that its predecessor “did not make any formal corporate representation to the consultation process.”

This was despite a snowballing campaign for a detox facility to be sited in the north west, amid a succession of suicides among young people suffering from drug addiction issues around this time.

The Health & Social Care Board Consultation was launched in September, 2013 and ran through into early 2014.

Of the 38 written responses, former Foyle SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey, is the only recorded political respondent advocating a detox service for Derry.

Meanwhile, Omagh District Council itself was among the strongest advocates for expanded provision in their local council area.

It centred on the proposed reconfiguration of inpatient services for adults requiring addiction treatment.

The purpose of the consultation was to consider how specialist in-patient treatment (Tier 4) beds, used for the treatment of those with alcohol and substance misuse, could be better organised.

Initial proposals for two facilities, both located in the east of Northern Ireland, were met with widespread dismay across the western region.

Following numerous representations from various bodies, these plans were later adapted to include a facility in the west, however, Omagh was chosen over Derry as the site for this.

The responses were recently obtained under Freedom of Information by local organisation ‘Beyond The Pillars’ and shared with the ‘Journal.’

While no action was taken by Derry City Council, Derry City & Strabane District Council, which has been siting in shadow form since May 2014 and which officially took over in April 2015, is actually taking steps to secure more facilities locally.

A spokeswoman for Derry City & Strabane District Council said: “The current Council supports the campaign to improve services in the North West and we recognise the need to establish an effective support network for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

“Council is actively developing a business case for the establishment of a Crisis Intervention Centre in Derry and a study visit for party leaders to the Nightingale Crisis Support Centre in Belfast took place in early February with a view to learning from other successful support services.”

She added: “The Mayor of Derry and Strabane is also taking the lead in the development of a new Civic Forum with a special conference taking place in Derry on March 10th to provide more information about the development of a Civic Forum for the Council area focusing on Alcohol, Drugs, Emotional Wellbeing and Homelessness.

“Community, voluntary, statutory organisations and local businesses are all encouraged to attend to ensure all views are represented with a view to establishing some really effective strategies to tackle some of the biggest issues affecting people across our district.”