Addiction unit plan is under fire

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North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has called on justice minister David Ford to reconsider his decision to withdraw funding for the Railway Street addiction services unit in Ballymena.

He delivered the message when he lead a delegation of people who would be affected by the closure to meet the Minister.

Mr. McKay said: “Many of those who have had their lives utterly destroyed by drugs in this area know that Railway Street was the crucial factor in getting their lives back on track. If the Minister takes away funding it will close.

“Many lives have been saved by this facility.It is an exemplary service in terms of prevention and there is no doubt the Department of Justice has saved millions over the years because Railway Street prevented drug-related crime, reduced reoffending and worked well with the police and other statutory agencies.”

Mr. McKay insisted that a continuation of funding for the unit made sense in terms of justice and health.

“It is a small amount of money which this service needs. The removal of the funding will be devastating as it will ensure that those become addicted to drugs as well as their families and communities, will not get the support they require.

“This decision makes no sense whatsoever and is widely opposed by the community as a whole. Our appeal to the minister is for him to listen to the voices of those who have had their lives devastated by drugs and take the appropriate action.”

North Antrim TUV Assemblyman, Jim Allister has also weighed in on behalf of the centre, calling on the Minister to re-think his proposals.