A pastor of an evangelical addiction programme has said his group will clear its name after former clients highlighted numerous concerns with its unregulated centres.
Martin Lynch runs the Victory Outreach group in Cork and is a director of the national organisation. He said its staff were properly trained and gave appropriate treatment to those seeking help.
He said he would not reveal details on specific qualifications of those who provide services but said the charity engaged registered counsellors and psychologists.
According to a report by RTÉ’s investigations unit, some addicts attending the centre have to work up to 18 hours a day selling raffle tickets and they are required to meet fundraising quotas.
They must also sign over most of their social welfare entitlements to avail of places on the Victory Outreach residential programmes.
People staying at one of its homes in Maynooth, Co Kildare, were monitored by RTÉ after being sent out before 7am to sell raffle tickets and were not returning until after midnight.
None of the residents got paid and they fundraised in various parts of the country, including in city centre pubs.
In one case, a former resident said he was arrested and detained in Cloverhill Prison because he was charged with illegal fundraising.
The charity runs five homes across Ireland including one in Maynooth and another in Cork. It also has two churches in Ballyfermot and on Clontarf St in Cork City.
One former participant, who spoke to RTÉ, said he was sent out while withdrawing from heroin to sell raffle tickets until he hit a quota.
And, although he was trying to escape addiction, he was sent to pubs to sell tickets.
“They tell you the Lord will take your [withdrawal] sickness away, you can’t sleep for three weeks and they tell you the Lord will make you sleep but it doesn’t happen,” he said.
Mr Lynch, said the Victory Outreach group would be responding to the programme in detail today.
However, he did say the group had many testimonials from former addicts who have had a very positive experience of its work.
He said its counsellors and psychologists were trained and registered.
According to the accounts for Urban Outreach Ltd, the company behind the service, it made a loss last year.
It earned €279,264, of which €168,400 came from fundraising and €110,646 was taken in through rent.
From what it earned, it spent €148,928 on rent and service charges and €825 on fundraising expenses.
It incurred no fundraising expenses in 2011 and raised €137,920.
It spent €16,088 on staff training in 2012, according to its accounts.
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