Rehabilitation centre wing opened


MOVING, SOMETIMES harrowing stories of addiction to alcohol and drugs were mixed with ice creams, music and smiles in the Wicklow hills yesterday.

Officially opening a dedicated wing for women at the Tiglin Rehabilitation Centre, near Ashford, President Michael D Higgins welcomed the courage of addiction course graduates who allowed their stories to be told.

Mr Higgins listened as Brenda Lawlor told of how she found herself on the streets, no longer able to be responsible for any of the four children she had during the course of her addiction.

She said she was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and told she had six months to live. But she said she was admitted to the faith-based course at Tiglin and, by applying Christian principles, she now receives a greater high from her faith than she did from drugs.

Ms Lawlor added that she was admitted to King’s College Hospital in London for a liver transplant but was told she no longer needed it. She has been in recovery for four years.

Other participants in the course included a man identified as “Glen”, who said that at the age of 12 “the toyshop didn’t have what I was looking for, so I bought drugs instead”.

Some 24 men and 12 women, many of whom were previously homeless, are on the course at Tiglin. They formed a choir to entertain Mr Higgins. The singer Moya Brennan also sang at the opening ceremony.

Mr Higgins said it was “wonderful to recognise such powerful work”. It showed the issues faced by Ireland “aren’t only about the economy. It is about the loss of lives.

“People talk about transforming institutions, the most important thing in the end is about transforming lives.

“People need affirmation and friendship,” he said, adding that while it is assumed that homeless people on the street are begging, they are often looking for the dignity of a few words, of being addressed as a human being.

Mr Higgins said that everybody has to ask themselves if they want to engage in inclusive citizenship and engage with fellow citizens. “Is this going to be the day when the sunshine is let in?” he asked.

Tiglin chairman Aubrey McCarthy said: “We have a national addiction problem which crosses the boundaries of gender, age and culture.

“To make a lasting difference to this epidemic, services like Tiglin need to be supported and funding levels increased,” he said.

The rehabilitation centre is based in the former buildings of the AFAS adventure centre and it had also been an An Óige youth hostel.

The women’s facility was previously based in Kildare.

It is proposed to renovate a further old building for use by women who have children. More than 90 per cent of the women who take the year-long course are mothers.