RURAL OUTCRY Scientology linked group wants to build €9m drug rehab centre in our village – but they’re dangerous, we don’t want them

Irish Sun/November 23, 2021

By Gary Meneely

Worried residents opposed to a controversial drug rehab centre linked to the Church of Scientology opening in their sleepy Irish village have pleaded for the case to be taken to the Supreme Court.

The €9million facility at Ballivor, Co Meath, last week got the green light.

The Court of Appeal upheld a decision last year of the High Court that An Bord Pleanala was incorrect in deciding that the centre requires planning permission.

Planning permission had been granted in 2014 for a nursing home at the site of the former Ballivor national school but the nursing home was not built.

The site was later snapped-up in 2016 by the Narconon Trust, registered in Sussex, England, which is linked to the Church of Scientology, who boast Hollywood actor Tom Cruise among its famous followers.


The Narconon Trust has forked out some €9million to date on purchasing and constructing the 56-bed a drug rehabilitation centre in the Co Meath village.

The Trust sought a judicial review after An Bord Pleanala decided in November 2018 that a change of use from a permitted nursing home to a residential drug rehabilitation facility required planning permission.

The three-judge Court of Appeal last week backed the High Court decision that the building was an “exempted development” and that no fresh planning permission was required for a change of use.

But defiant locals in Ballivor last night vowed to continue their battle against the Scientology-linked group Narconon opening a drug treatment centre on their doorstep.

Claire O’Mara, one of the original committee members of the Ballivor Says No protest group, told the Irish Sun: “We’ve been fighting against it for years and we remain as determined as ever.

“The decision from the Court of Appeal is very frustrating and disappointing at the same time.

“We really thought we would have stood a better chance. But there is no way we’re giving up. We will fight on. We don’t want them (the Narconon Trust) here, it is as simple as that.

“All we can do now is to plead with An Bord Pleanala to appeal this decision made by the Court of Appeal and take it to the Supreme Court.

“It is the only option.


“But I think it is very important that the people of Ballivor now speak their minds and ask An Bord Pleanala to please listen to the village of Ballivor when we say they are dangerous and we don’t want them.”

The Narconon Trust has welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision that allows its drug rehabilitation centre in Ballivor to go ahead.

Following a two-year legal wrangle, the Trust also claimed the people of Ballivor now have “a very different attitude from the initial misinformed emotional response” to the project.

But O’Mara strongly rejected the suggestion there was growing local support for the drug treatment centre, insisting Narconon were in “cloud cuckoo land”.

The organisation’s Irish website describes Narconon as a “church-sponsored drug rehabilitation programme that helps addicts escape the dangerous cycles of drug abuse”, adding that it “utilises drug withdrawal techniques that focus on an intense detoxification process rather than other drugs”.

But the methods used at similar centres for drug rehabilitation in other countries are widely disputed.

Last night O’Mara issued a direct appeal to Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar to step in to introduce legislation to regulate drug treatment centres.

She told us: “I have serious concerns. Private drug treatment centres are not regulated, anything that is not regulated, surely to God any decent human being would raise a red flag.


“There is no regulation to govern these drug rehabilitation centres in Ireland. And this is what I’m calling out for. I’m calling directly on the Taoiseach Micheal Martin and the Tanaiste Leo Varadkar to urgently look at this. They need to start pushing through legislation.

“Any Tom, Dick or Harry can open a drug rehabilitation centre. I can open one in my living room, for crying out loud, charge €25 a minute, make you take Smarties and tell you ‘I’ll cure you’. It is as ludicrous as it sounds, that’s exactly the situation. The HSE only regulates and oversees the ones they run, this one won’t even be governed by HIQA. There are no checks whatsoever.

“If they are HSE funded, they have to meet the HSE standards. But private companies do not have to meet any standards.

“It is so troubling. There is no Irish medical professional that will stand over the treatment that they (the Narconon Trust) give addicts. That speaks volumes.”

Pledging to ramp up the campaign against the new centre, the activist insisted the facility would offer “no value” to Ballivor - and revealed further protests by reeling residents were in the pipeline.


O’Mara said: “It was supposed to be a nursing home. A nursing home would have brought jobs. And would have allowed the folk of Ballivor to retire in their own village, and live out whatever last years they had in a beautiful nursing home.

“This is completely the opposite of caring for the elderly.

“They (the Narconon Trust) treat people from abroad, so you’ll have people coming in from France, Germany, Spain and they are going to come in.

“Further protests will be held, we will not stop fighting. I would like to see where An Bord Pleanala is going to go with this first off. The point we really, really want to get across to An Bord Pleanala is to take it to the Supreme Court, listen to the people of Ballivor. It is a small village, we are nicknamed the forgotten village, but we really need people to look out for us and take our side on this.”


The Irish Sun can reveal the Church of Scientology has also been accused of wooing families in Ballivor.

We understand the facility recently put on a Halloween event, offering free face painting and sweets.

O’Mara told us: “They have wooed locals families. They have been trying to woo locals.

“At Halloween there they tried to get people down to their centre so as they could give free face painting and free sweets to the children.”

Local politicians also spoke of their concerns about the Scientology-linked centre.


Meath Cllr Noel French told the Irish Sun “a big difficulty” with Narconon was that planning for the facility was secured under a Section 5 process.

He explained: “The local people of Ballivor did not get a say. It was done without their knowledge.”

Meath West TD Peadar Toibin branded the decision to give the go-ahead to the Church of Scientology drug project “disturbing” and “madness”.

And the Aontu leader insisted the Government had a responsibility to halt it, flagging up the lack of regulation for addiction rehabilitation centres.


Toibin told us: “I believe the Government has a massive duty of care here to the community of Ballivor and also to patients in need of drug rehabilitation.

“The HSE has told me there is no evidence to suggest the treatment provided by the Church of Scientology is effective in the treatment of drug addiction.

“The HSE has also told me there is no evidence to suggest that the drug treatment programme provided by the Church of Scientology would meet any of the criteria set out by the HSE for agencies that provide addiction services in its behalf.

“So there is no evidence of effectiveness, value or usefulness in the treatment programme provided to patients who attend their facilities.


“We now have a situation where a totally unregulated drug rehabilitation centre is being allowed to open up in a small rural village.

“It is deeply worrying that there are no minimum standards at all for residential treatment or rehabilitation centres specialising in addiction.”


NARCONON bosses hit out at the Irish Sun after we quizzed them on concerns raised by locals regarding the drug rehabilitation centre in Ballivor.

Sheila MacLean, of Narconon Trust, hailed the Court of Appeal decision to give the centre the green light as “a clear-cut victory”.

She said: “We take drug rehabilitation seriously.“

The decision is a major step toward Narconons goal of providing effective drug rehabilitation to the people of Ireland at a time when the horrors of opioids and other deadly drugs are ravaging families at levels never before seen.

“Your request for comment on “a number of issues” reflects on how you haven’t done any due diligence.

"The “issues” you raise are based on not a scintilla of fact, fed to you by a few unidentified individuals who are utterly ignorant about Narconon?

”In her response to the Irish Sun, MacLean did concede that drug treatment centres in Ireland were unregulated.

She said: “It is a fact that the only standards which currently exist in Ireland are the HIQA National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare which are not enforceable in all rehabs.

"Narconon intends not only to meet but exceed those standards in full.”

But MacLean failed to respond to our queries about Narconon inviting families to the drug treatment centre with free face painting and sweets over Halloween.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos