Topical Issues Debate – “Cuts in Funding to Ait Linn in Ballymun and Barrmore House, North Circular Road and the impact said cuts will have on people suffering with alcoholism”


“Cuts in Funding to Ait Linn in Ballymun and Barrmore House, North Circular Road and the impact said cuts will have on people suffering with alcoholism”

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan

Thank you Deputy O’Sullivan for raising this matter.

This Government is committed to tackling alcohol misuse in Ireland and the widespread harm and pain it causes.  Alcohol is causing significant damage across the population, in workplaces, to children and carries a substantial burden to all in Irish society.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which my Department is currently drafting, is a part of a suite of measures agreed by the Government in 2013 on foot of the recommendations in the Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy, 2012.  The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill incorporates a number of these recommendations and addresses the underlying factor behind alcohol misuse i.e affordability, availability and attractiveness.

The Health Service Executive National Service Plan 2015 aims to:
‘Progress the implementation of the National Substance Misuse Strategy including the community mobilisation pilot on alcohol initiatives in five drug task force areas and the further development of a coordinated approach to prevention and education interventions in alcohol between all stakeholders including third level institutions.’

The Health Service Executive provides services to prevent and treat addiction to alcohol.  People who present for alcohol addiction treatment are offered a range of interventions namely, Initial Assessment, Comprehensive Assessment, Minnesota Programme, Brief Intervention, Individual Counselling, self-help, peer-support or a combination of these.  The delivery of these services is based on the Four Tier Model of treatment intervention, and services are designed to respond to the individual’s specific identified needs.  This care model implies that clients should be offered the least intensive intervention appropriate to their need when they present for treatment initially.  Interventions range from community and family based supports, through to primary care services, through to specialist support services either in the community or residential settings.

Interagency working between the HSE, Drug Task Forces and multiple other community, statutory and voluntary agencies form the basis of this delivery as the target is to provide services where possible in a community environment.  Counselling and rehabilitation services provide care to those presenting with an addiction through one to one counselling and onward referral to other statutory and voluntary groups where appropriate.  The HSE also provides funding to a number of voluntary service providers who treat drug and alcohol addictions.

I am informed by the HSE that Ait Linn is currently funded by the Ballymun Regeneration Group.  While they submitted proposals for funding to the Health Service Executive Addiction Service, the HSE was not in a position to offer funding to the group this year due to competing priorities and available resources.  I understand that Ait Linn has met with the Health Service Executive and as they are a local service they have been advised to contact the local addiction service and Drugs Task Forces.

Barrymore House is a residential detox service run by the Health Service Executive.  The HSE has advised that due to staffing issues the programme has been temporarily suspended.  However, they are in the process of recruiting new counsellors and plan to re-establish the residential programme in August.
The remit of the Drugs Task Forces was extended to include the problem of alcohol misuse last year, in view of the central role they play in co-ordinating the response to substance misuse at local level.

The Dormant Accounts Action Plan for 2014/15 includes provision of €1m for a specific substance misuse measure.