A £9million residential drug rehabilitation center linked to the controversial Church of Scientology in Co Meath has yet to open.
Last November, the Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling that An Bord Pleanála had been wrong in ruling that the facility at Ballivor, Co Meath, required planning permission.
This gave Narconon Trust, the rehabilitation center linked to the controversial church, the green light to proceed with plans for the site, originally intended as a nursing home.
Despite this, almost a year later, it remains closed.
When contacted, a Narconon spokeswoman confirmed, “Planning is progressing to open the facility as the recent period of the Covid pandemic has delayed our plans. We are fully committed to helping people overcome and recover from addiction, and our planning is once again in full swing.
The spokeswoman said a caretaker lived at the facility, but there was no opening date.
Ballivor Rehabilitation Center is set to be the first Narconon facility in Ireland, although the Church of Scientology already has a community center in the Dublin suburb of Firhouse as well as a headquarters in Merrion Square.
Aontú and Meath TD executive Peadar Tóibín, who has participated in protests against the center’s opening, said he wonders if the facility will ever open.
“It is very clear that the Church of Scientology business model in Ballivor is not working. This is a very good thing for the community of Ballivor, who never supported him,” he said.
The TD has criticized the fact that all private drug and alcohol treatment facilities in Ireland are completely unregulated. “At present anyone can set up a private rehab clinic, using any scheme and they are not subject to any HSE inspections. This must change immediately,” he said.
The site was acquired in 2016 by Narconon Trust, registered in Sussex, England, which is linked to the Church of Scientology and supports drug addiction charities as part of its mission.
The trust was founded by Massimo Angius, trustee and director of the Church of Scientology in England for over 20 years.
It has around 40 drug treatment centers around the world and has spent around €9 million to date on the purchase and construction of the Ballivor centre.
He bought the site after securing a declaration from Meath County Council in 2016 that the proposed change of use from a nursing home to a residential drug treatment facility is an exempt development.