Fianna Fáil should get their facts right – McFadden

Fianna Fáil makes false claims about Midlands Drugs Task Force funding

Fine Gael Longford/Westmeath TD, Gabrielle McFadden, has moved to clarify inaccurate claims made this week by Fianna Fáil that the Midlands Drugs & Alcohol Task Force funding has been cut by 90%.

“Poor research is at the centre of this Fianna Fáil scaremongering about the funding of the Midlands Drugs & Alcohol Task Force. Every piece of data they use in their attempt to generate fears about funding for this important organisation is completely false.

“The central claim made was that the main funding allocation for the Task Force had fallen by 90%,from €1.5 million in 2010 to €136,816 in 2015. After checking these figures, the HSE has confirmed to me that the Midlands Regional Drugs & Alcohol Task Force Budget allocation for 2010 was in fact €894,739 while the 2015 figure was €799,307, which remained unchanged from 2014.

“As we can see from the 2015 figure of €799,307, this is a far cry from the misleading claims that it had been cut to €136,816, a figure used in a sorry attempt to score some political points.

“If Fianna Fáil had bothered to engage in some basic fact-checking with the HSE, they would know that €662,491 of the Taskforce’s funding had been mainstreamed into the general delivery services under the umbrella of the HSE. Mainstreaming means ring-fencing the Taskforce’s budget areas in order to give stability to the services and ensure their continuation without any threats or cuts to budgets.

“The remainder of the Taskforce’s overall funding, namely €136,816, still remains under the project headings of the Taskforce, so it’s clear to me that Fianna Fáil have tried to mislead people into thinking that this is the total budget for the Taskforce, and spotted an opportunity for scaremongering.

“Perhaps those who wrongly stated that the “Government introduced massive cutbacks” to the Midlands Regional Drugs & Alcohol Task Force budget might reflect on how this harmful publicity can frighten service-users and, in future, at the very least, get their facts right when it comes to making comments on such an important subject.
“We saw last week how ill-founded speculation whipped up fears that the Athlone Hospice was about to close. It proved completely untrue. Scaremongering about vital services is completely unacceptable and does an injustice to service-providers and users.”