Only appropriately qualified and licensed people should provide addiction services, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
He was responding to concerns about efforts by the Church of Scientology to establish a drugs rehabilitation programme in the village of Ballivor, Co Meath.
Fianna Fáil TD Shane Cassells referred to the religious organisation’s attempts to set up a Narconon programme in an old national school in Ballivor and he asked “if the cult’s wacky drug rehabilitation programme is legally permitted to operate in the State”.
The Meath West TD asked Mr Varadkar to send a message of support, as Taoiseach and a doctor, to concerned parents in the village who plan a protest outside the school at 2pm on Wednesday. “They are petrified about the safety of their children,” he said.
The Taoiseach replied: “I am absolutely of the view that the only people who should provide addiction services are those who are appropriately qualified and licensed to do so.”
He added that on occasion addiction services are provided by religious groups. “I know that a number of Catholic groups provide alcohol counselling services and do so very well.”
Fianna Fáil Meath East TD Thomas Byrne said “it is not a religion but a scam”.
The Taoiseach said he had read a little about the issue in the papers but did not know all the details or facts.
Mr Cassells asked if the programme planned by the Church of Scientology is legally permitted.
The Taoiseach replied that no matter what background people came from “it is essential that such services only be provided by those who are qualified and legally permitted to provide them”.