A HSE-owned site opposite Portlaoise prison that was earmarked for a new Garda HQ by politicians is instead to be used to treat drug and alcohol addiction.
The two acre site in the grounds of St Fintan’s Hospital is being cleared by diggers.
“Site clearance is taking place at the west side of St Fintans for the proposed development of a Community Alcohol and Drugs Services (CADS)treatment centre. No planning application has yet been submitted,” a HSE spokesperson said yesterday, Monday.
The HSE did not confirm the cost or when the centre would be built.
The centre will provide addiction counselling, maintenance programmes, clinics and alternative therapies for alcoholics and drug addicts.
Chief Superintendent John Scanlon welcomed the news.
“Any plans for a treatment centre have to be welcomed. The more spaces the better. We can’t put our heads in the sand,” he said, confirming that Portlaoise Garda Station will stay put in the town centre.
“That site was never a viable option. We are looking at redeveloping. We are in ongoing consultations with the OPW’s architects,” he said.
The site was chosen in 2007 for a Garda station by Minister Tom Parlon, just before he lost his seat in the General Election.