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Government response to drugs study inadequate – Ó Snodaigh

25 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has described the response from the government to the study showing a significant increase in the use of cocaine as inadequate. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said the problem of drugs in Ireland must be treated as an emergency.

Speaking today he said, "The report itself gives a slight misread of the reality. As the authors themselves have acknowledged when we extract the over forty age group the percentage of people who have used drugs increases significantly. And when you extract the under fifteen age group this figure takes yet another significant increase showing that the problem is significant in the fifteen to forty age bracket. And while the use of ecstasy has decreased this is simply because cocaine has over taken it and become more rampant than ecstasy ever was.

"The government's response on Morning Ireland this morning to this report is completely inadequate. The Minister rightly advocates highlighting the dangers of drugs to our young people but this can be only one part of a much wider strategy to tackle drugs if we are serious about it.

"Awareness campaigns have been tried and tested before yet the drugs crisis continues. These campaigns are toothless unless they are complemented with measures to tackle both the supply and demand for drugs and with effective detox measures for those wishing to come off drugs.

"The Minister's response is typical of the approach the Government has taken over the past number of years while cocaine has taken a hold on every community in the state. They have turned their backs and denied the extent of the problem at every juncture. And even now after all the recent cocaine related deaths the government are foolhardedly content that awareness raising measures are enough to contain the problem.

"When will this Government wake up and realise that the drugs crisis must be treated as an emergency. Adequate resources must be put into all five pillars of The National Drugs Strategy - supply reduction, prevention, treatment, research and rehabilitation.

"If anything else was killing so many people in this state it would be treated as an emergency. Even the threat of foot and mouth, which has not killed anyone in Ireland, was treated as a bigger emergency than the drugs crisis which has killed countless people." ENDS

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