16 September 2021, The Tablet

Bishops appeals for help to save addiction service

Bishops appeals for help to save addiction service

Bishop Michael Router of Armagh has appealed to the Irish government for funding to save Fasn.
Liam McArdle / Alamy

Bishop Michael Router of Armagh has appealed to the Irish government for urgent funding to prevent the closure of the Family Addiction Support Network (Fasn) which is based in Dundalk.

The network was founded 20 years ago to support families traumatised by addiction. A lack of funding is threatening its continued existence. The organisation has set up a fund-raising page to try to keep its work going beyond the end of September.

Speaking as patron of Fasn, Bishop Router said he had seen at first hand the great work that the organisation undertakes. Last year Fasn helped over 250 families in the area.

However, the Bishop said he had also witnessed the negative impact that the lack of funding was having on the organisation’s dedicated personnel. “Without question, it will be devastating for such families if this service is forced to close,” he warned.  

The auxiliary bishop of Armagh, a diocese which has parishes north and south of the border, appealed for government funding to help deliver Fasn’s “vital services for the wellbeing of the community”.

Last October Fasn applied for funding to keep its level of service going but received just a fraction of what it needed to run projects across the North-East of the country.

Jackie McKenna, Project Manager of Fasn, explained to LMFM Radio that the organisation had recently been informed that there was no funding available from the government for family addiction support services, despite €70,000 being previously pledged by the Department of Health under Budget 2021.

The money was pledged following recommendations from the Department of Justice Geiran Report which identified FASN as one of the key local projects in response to the drugs-fuelled emergency in Drogheda, as did the Department of Justice’s implementation plan, Drogheda: Building a Bridge to a Better Future, which was published last month.

Bishop Router has requested an urgent meeting with Minister of State for National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, to discuss the situation.

Last week media coverage highlighted serious intimidating behaviour connected to the ongoing drugs-related criminal activity in the Border area where Fasn operates.

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