A Catholic religious group has undergone pre-planning consultation with Waterford Council in advance of an “imminent” application to open a female-only addiction rehabilitation centre in the west of the county.
The Refuge of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a collective comprised of individuals from several Catholic organisations across the country.
The group has purchased – subject to planning – a two-storey house on six acres, two kilometres from Clashmore village and intend to convert the site into a secluded retreat for up to 12 recovering addicts.
The facility, referred to as Pobail Mhuire, will be managed by nuns from the Argentine-founded Our Lord and Our Lady of Matara, who will live in the compound.
Several members of the group, which is administered from Dublin, have connections to similar centres elsewhere, including Mr Carlin, who is a former director of the Cenacolo drug rehabilitation centre in Knock.
The entire project is and will be funded by “charitable donations”, says co-ordinator John Carlin.
and will be modelled on Cenacolo, with residents confined to the grounds.
Contact with the outside world will be almost non-existent, with visitors and mobile phones forbidden.
“The women will have undergone intense detoxification prior to arrival and there will be absolutely no drugs on the premises”, Mr Carlin said. “Anyone transgressing the rules will be asked to leave”.
The venture, which is endorsed by Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinane, has caused some disquiet locally.
At a recent public meeting, Bishop Cullinane felt moved to remind those in attendance of the need to “reach out to fellow human beings, who have fallen into addiction”.
Local Waterford councillor Tom Cronin said the area was “not suitable” due to lack of “bus, or services of any kind” in the vicinity. He is also concerned that a primary school is “just a couple of fields away” and said he would be lobbying against giving planning.