Families in terror need a “safe place,” says Bischof

A “very many” addiction-related families are stranded when a long-term family support group is forced to close its doors due to lack of funds, a senior clergyman said.

Armagh Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Michael Router said the Family Addiction Support Network (FASN), which operates five groups in the northeast, provides a “safe haven” for these families.

He said there was “an absolute urgency” to raise additional funds for the network, which had used up its entire small annual budget of € 7,500 from the HSE in June.

“A silent kind of suffering”

He said family addiction, which is often accompanied by intimidation for drug debt, is a “very quiet kind of suffering” as people are very scared and afraid to seek help.

The bishop, who is the patron of FASN, said that the Ministry of Health allocated 70,000 euros to each of the four regions last October, announced last October, but that none of these funds had yet reached the local agencies.

As already reported in Irish examiner, FASN is also awaiting the results of a review of its HSE funding – as recommended in the Geiran report, which was set up after the January 2020 murder and dismemberment of 17-year-old Keane Mulready Woods in town.

Bishop Router said he wrote to Drug Strategy Secretary Frank Feighan last week for clarification on funding and received a response on Wednesday.

Jackie McKenna and Gwen McKenna from the Family Addiction Support Network (FASN) in Dundalk. File image: Moya Nolan

“He said the HSE had it, but last week the HSE representative on the North East Regional Drugs Task Force said, ‘We don’t have the money,’ so hopefully it’s here now.”

The bishop said the murder of Keane Mulready Woods was “so shocking and so terrible” that the national media would cause an outcry, but said the focus had now moved on.

Ultimately, the lack of focus is because there are no votes, you don’t win or lose a seat in local or parliamentary elections, so there is a lack of focus, but you are only creating problems for the future.

He said drug debt intimidation was still very high in Drogheda, citing one case.

“Recently there was a family in Drogheda, their home was ransacked, and the family’s pet was beaten up. The plumbing fixtures were pulled out and the family ended up on the street for hours. You had to find a hotel and pay for it yourself – there weren’t any [state] Answer.”

He said the problem is not just an urban problem and that details of addiction and drug debt in rural parts of Cavan and Monaghan were heard at a meeting of the regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force last week.

“A representative said that parts of four family businesses were sold last year to pay off debts incurred by an addicted son or daughter,” he said. “It’s a big deal for a farmer to sell his land, the elixir of life.”

Jackie McKenna, FASN co-founder with her sister Gwen, said they had “no communication” from donors about their funding situation:

We don’t have luxury of time on our side – we have to fundraise to keep us going until the donors clear the bureaucracy and red tape.

She said they just got sponsored by Dundalk Credit Union for their 5k FASN Family Fun Run.

“If FASN closed its doors,” she said, “it would cost the HSE and government over 1 million euros to build a similar structure, and it would not be peer-led.”

She said until the HSE sets criteria for the department’s fund and groups can apply, it will be 2022.

The Ministry of Health said the HSE’s request for € 280,000 (€ 70,000 for the Northeast) family support funding had been “approved” by the Ministry of Health and said the HSE was “responsible for carrying out these measures.”

In a statement, HSE headquarters said, “HSE has just received funds for family support from the ministry. It will be for the CHO. be [Community Healthcare Organisations] to assign in his area. ”

About Ellen Lewandowski

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