Spending on anti-drugs initiatives must match priority required – Doherty
Speaking in the Seanad today Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty called on the Government to introduce a Supplementary Estimate to ensure that spending on anti-drugs initiatives matches the priority and urgency required. Senator Doherty said if the government were to re-allocate tax payers money out of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund then resources for the Drugs Initiatives and Young People's Facilities Fund under Budget 2008 could be more than doubled.
He said, "The number of deaths as a result of overdose have increased markedly since 2001. According to figures provided by the Taoiseach to my colleague Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh such deaths increased by 32% between 2004 and 2005 alone. The most recent figures provided to us evidence more than one such drug-related death every three days.
"Specifically cocaine-related deaths are on the increase. The Dublin County Coroner Dr. Kieran Geraghty issued a stark warning during the summer on the lethal nature of even small quantities of cocaine after he dealt with five cocaine-related deaths in one day. In recent weeks there has been increased media coverage demonstrating the lethal potential of the drug.
"The Government must recognise that the drugs crisis is no longer confined to Dublin and other urban centres in the State. Cocaine is now rampant in every community in every County in the State, rural and urban. Not only must the Government recognise that fact but they must put in place strategies to deal with this reality. Currently the Drugs Task Forces are in operation in urban centres only. The Government must devise similar strategies to deal with the drug crisis in rural settings also.
"Investment in prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reducing the supply of illegal drugs makes both social and economic sense.
"It's time this government got its priorities in order. Budget 2008 is indicative of where its priorities currently lie and these need to be reversed. The government are allocating €76 million to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund while giving less than that, €64 million, to the Drugs Initiatives and Young People's Facilities Fund.
"I am calling on the government to introduce a Supplementary Estimate to ensure that spending on anti-drugs initiatives matches the priority and urgency involved. If the government were to re-allocate tax payers money out of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund then resources for the Drugs Initiatives and Young People's Facilities Fund under Budget 2008 could be more than doubled." ENDS