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Addiction centre reprieve as minister overturns the decision to end funding

By Donna Deeney

Published 13/01/2017

The Northlands Centre
The Northlands Centre

A drug and alcohol treatment clinic in Londonderry has been saved from immediate closure after the Health Minister put plans by her predecessor, Simon Hamilton, to phase out core funding on hold.

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill this week suspended the phasing out of all core funding grants across Northern Ireland, which has secured the future of the Northlands Centre - at least in the short term.

However, the director of the centre, Declan Doherty, has called for an end to "fragmented funding" so that the work of the centre is safeguarded for the long term.

Mr Doherty said: "What the Minister, Michelle O'Neill, has done essentially is save the Northlands Centre, which was in real danger of closing.

"By suspending the phasing out of core funding, the Northlands Centre and the 66 other organisations across Northern Ireland which receive it can continue with their work.

"This is very welcome but this solves our difficulties in the short term. What we really need is an end to the fragmented funding we receive from different sources and ideally an agreement from the Department of Health to provide all of the government funding we receive."

The crisis which almost closed the Northland Centre arose last June when the centre directors were told by the Department of Health that its contribution was going to be phased out over three years.

At the time, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) assured the centre it would make up the shortfall.

However, the Department then announced that it intended to disband the HSCB.

Mr Doherty continued: "Northlands would like to thank all of those who have helped to bring matters, at least for now, to a generally more positive place.

"The unswerving support of all these people has helped to bring about this important intervention by the Health Minister."

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