Effort to save a Newry addiction treatment centre from closure have taken a step in the right direction with an action plan to possibly allow its life-saving services to continue for now, it was claimed today.
Pat McGinn, a member of the Friends of Cuan Mhuire, said he was heartened by efforts from the Department of Social Development and Department of Health to come to an arrangement to allow the centre to remain open until a replacement building is due for completion in two years' time.
Cuan Mhuire addiction unit - the only centre of its type in Northern Ireland - closed its doors to new residents this summer due to ageing buildings and the building of a new motorway section.
An official report highlighted safety concerns but there has been a concerted campaign to save it by the local community.
Mr McGinn, a Sinn Fein councillor in Newry, said the centre is scheduled to close completely on October 20 - but there are hopes that deadline will now be put off.
He said: "There have been a series of meetings to get to the stage we are now at. The most important thing has been to find a way to get back to the life-changing and life-saving work done at Cuan Mhuire as quickly as possible. This is a step in the right direction."
Announcing details of the action plan, Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie said: "I am very aware of the important work carried out at Cuan Mhuire and the dedication of the staff who work there. The re-establishment of safe services at the centre must be at the core of any action plan.
"My department, through the Housing Executive, will reinstate Supporting People funding to provide support and guidance to these vulnerable people who require the services of Cuan Mhuire."
The centre has provided accommodation and services for adults with drug and alcohol problems.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has been working with Ms Ritchie. He said: " In respect of Cuan Mhuire, I asked the Southern Health Board to work with other agencies and Cuan Mhuire to see if the safety issues could be resolved, and as part of this process an action plan is being developed.
"Further discussion on this action plan will take place with Cuan Mhuire next week."