I welcome the Minister of State into the Chamber to discuss this matter, for what is probably the second or third time in the past two years. Hopefully we can achieve a positive outcome. I spoke to the Minister of State about this in recent times. The Abbey Community Project is a group in Celbridge that provides important counselling and dual diagnosis services to people with different addictions such as alcohol addiction, drug addiction, etc. The group comes at these from the perspectives of both mental health and addiction treatment. Qualified counsellors provide the services. I know that the Minister of State is familiar with the group .
I met the Minister for Health regarding this issue last July. He believed this was a good model, with the service established in the community with good support and providing an excellent service. Given the HSE was not able to provide the service in the way that was intended, he felt this was a model that should be supported. This project that has received plaudits from the Minister, the Minister of State and her colleague, Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Jim Daly. The HSE is in favour of it, as is the South-Western Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, yet ten years on, the group is without any funding. Its members raise funds to cover public liability insurance by chipping in themselves or carrying out a bucket collection. They do this on a voluntary basis. The project has seen more than 500 people and has 75 or 80 live cases on its books at the moment. I have a copy of a memorandum of understanding which provides for the HSE to give the project referrals. That is a reflection of its status. Unfortunately, I also have a letter from the task force and the HSE acknowledging the service the project provides and suggesting that it could, and should be, supported in its work, which is badly needed in that area and beyond, but unfortunately cannot be without funding.
I ask the Minister of State to prioritise this case and allocate funding. This organisation is not looking for a massive sum. It just needs money to cover its own overheads such as office hire, which is free at the moment, insurance, the day-to-day running of the facility; and remuneration for the two qualified counsellors who have provided the service on a voluntary basis for ten years.
If we are serious about mental health issues, drug addiction and assisting people to get back on the right road and giving them the supports they need at all the different levels, we need to act and support this group, otherwise it will not be sustainable. The group cannot continue to operate as it is without funding. Everyone acknowledges that this is a worthwhile project, but it needs funding to continue. After all the discussions, meetings and engagements I have had with the Minister of State and all the other Ministers over the past two years - I have been raising this since I came into this House - I hope that we can achieve a positive outcome. I hope that we can get the project the funding, resources and supports that are needed because, to date, it has not received a cent. It was indicated last year that it would be allocated €3,500, but when the staff went looking for that to pay the insurance, they were told that the funding was no longer available.