Detox for Derry campaign takes to the streets in protest again

Campaigners joined by Santa at Guildhall Square.
Campaigners joined by Santa at Guildhall Square.

Those at the helm of a campaign for a detox facility said they have had no choice but to return to street politics once again due to what they claim are “broken promises”.

The Detox For Derry campaign team and supporters gathered at Guildhall Square recently to highlight the lack of a facility for those facing addiction crisis in the city and district.

The ‘Outreach Event’ took place on Guildhall Square, and the campaigners said it came after almost three years of social-networking and face-to-face lobbying.

Hundreds of outreach cards, containing the group’s contact details and details of 15 local helplines were distributed in Guildhall Square and adjoining streets during the event.

The protest included affiliated members from Search Team Northwest, local cross-community volunteers, who in recent years have participated in searches for people missing, including along the River Foyle.

The Detox For Derry campaign, established in November 2013, in June this year received a funding boost of £56,561 courtesy of the Big Lottery Fund.

Over half of the funding went towards basic essential training, in addition to providing waterproof clothing and basic equipment such as helmets, life-jackets and walkie-talkies etc. to Search Team Northwest.

The funding also enabled the campaign to purchase office equipment, and extra equipment towards the production of additional educational short films on addiction, including ‘Derry Detoxed’, ‘Derry Cure’ and ‘Sport Against Suicide’ available.

These and other educational films were created by the Detox4Derry Campaign chairperson, Gavin Patton.

The main speaker at the event was the group’s Hon Secretary, author and co-founder of the Civil Rights Movement in 1967, Fionnbarra O’ Dochartaigh.

Standing under a large banner with the message ‘Help Save Lives and Change Life-Styles’, the group’s founder said: “48,000 paper petition signatories were delivered to the Stormont Speaker of the Assembly William Hay by a former MLA Pat Ramsey, and more than 25,000 others 
endorsed our campaign online.”

Mr O’Dochartaigh claimed however that those in authority have failed to support this campaign for a local detox unit and a 24/7 Crisis Intervention Services (CIS).

Speaking at a relaunch event of Detox for Derry back in 2015, Mr O’Dochartaigh said: “Our aim is quite simple but it will be difficult to secure.

“We demand, as a matter of public urgency, steps to be taken to save lives and improve the health and well-being of drug, alcohol and substance abuse addicts.”

The Outreach Event ended when campaigners where unexpectedly joined by Santa, who was raising funds nearby for a local charity, Children in Crossfire.

The protestors dispersed after singing a few popular festive songs at the end of the event.