A FULLY refurbished €2.1m, 19-bed step down facility for recovering addicts has now been empty for 11 years and Cork politicians have called for it to be opened as soon as possible.
The Cuan Mhuire centre requires an injection of €300,000 annually to be run but a dispute between the HSE, Cork City Council and the Government on the services provided at the centre means it has yet to open despite being refurbished at substantial cost over a decade ago.
Fianna Fáil leader Micháel Martin has said that he has been in contact with the Department of Housing, the HSE and the local authority on the matter and wants to see progress being made on an opening date soon.
“It beggars belief that accommodation which is ready and available to the authorities isn't being utilised,” he said.
Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke said the facility could provide a vital service over the festive period.
“We are facing into a difficult period in the run-up to Christmas, with people trying to access accommodation. However, this extremely good facility is lying idle because people cannot come to an agreement.
“Cuan Mhuire set out a careful plan for how it wished to use it, but it appears that some people in the HSE have not come to the same view.
“In fairness, Cork City Council is prepared to come on board and offer assistance provided agreement can be reached. It is wrong that where money has been invested by an organisation and where it needs the support of the health service and the local authority, we find the facility lying idle.
Senator Jerry Buttimer described it as “unacceptable” that it is not available as a step-down facility.
“In the context of the implementation of the Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery programme, there is an obligation on the HSE to work with the local authority on this,” he added.
The Department of Housing said it was not in a position to comment on the matter.
A spokesperson for Cork City Council said: “We do not have an update on when this building may be occupied. We understand that Cuan Mhuire are in discussions regarding the nature of the service to be provided there for people with addiction issues.“
Cuan Mhuire is Ireland’s largest voluntary provider of addiction treatment services and residential rehabilitation. It works with people suffering from alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.
Every year some 2,500 persons are admitted to Cuan Mhuire treatment centres. Since it’s formation in 1966 by Sr. Consilio, Cuan Mhuire has treated approximately 100,000 people.