Scientology rehab to go ahead in Meath

Independent, Ireland/March 6, 2022

By Ali Bracken

A €9m residential drug rehabilitation centre linked to the controversial Church of Scientology will not face any more legal obstacles to opening its facility in a small village in Co Meath.

In November, the Court of Appeal (CoA) upheld a decision of the High Court that An Bord Pleanála was incorrect in deciding that the facility at Ballivor, Co Meath, requires planning permission.

This gave Narconon Trust, the rehab centre linked to the controversial church, the go-ahead to proceed with its plans for the site in Ballivor, originally earmarked as a nursing home.

However, there was an option for An Bord Pleanála to appeal this court ruling.

Contacted this week, solicitors acting for the national planning body confirmed it was not considering any further appeals.

Margaret O’Leary, solicitor at Dublin legal firm Philip Lee, told this newspaper that An Bord Pleanála “won’t be seeking leave to appeal”.

Claire O’Mara, of the “Ballivor Says No” action group, which vehemently opposes the opening of the facility in the community, said she was “very disappointed” to hear that An Bord Pleanála was no longer legally challenging the opening of the facility.

“We are deflated. We are very disappointed that An Bord Pleanála went so far with this in court and are not seeing it through,” she said when contacted. “I am not against drug rehabilitation centres at all. I am against this one though because of its links to Scientology.

“The property would have made a lovely nursing home, which is what it was originally intended as, and it would have brought jobs to the community. We do not want Ballivor to be put on the map as the village in Meath with the controversial Scientology rehab centre.”

Ms O’Mara said she would consult with other members of the action group before deciding whether to stage any more protests outside the centre, which is located beside the community centre and in the immediate vicinity of a national school and a creche.

The Ballivor rehab centre is intended to be the first Narconon facility in Ireland, though the Church of Scientology already has a community centre in the Dublin suburb of Firhouse as well as headquarters in Merrion Square.

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