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Ferris Warns on Cutbacks in Fight against Drugs

2 March, 2009

European Candidate Cllr Toireasa Ferris has warned that the cutbacks in the campaign against drugs, which may appear a soft option for Ministers in the short term, could have long term devastating consequences for a whole generation of young people across Munster. Toireasa Ferris said: "Cutting programmes aimed at preventing drug abuse may appear as a soft option for Ministers, but these cuts could have dire long term consequences for a whole generation across Munster. The last heroin epidemic coincided with the economic recession of the 1980's." "While that epidemic was largely confined to inner city Dublin, drugs are now widely available in all large towns and many smaller ones across Munster. In particular heroin use has moved outside the Dublin area and new destructive drugs such as crystal meth are being manufactured in Ireland. The cuts are being made against a background where 2,500 people died from drug use in the eight years prior to 2005 - that is almost one person a day." "Of particular concern is the decision to abandon the "Dial to Stop Drug Dealing" service despite the success of the initiative in generating useful information and leads for Garda investigations. The service, piloted in Dublin, was supposed to be rolled out across Munster about now but has been abandoned. The Minister has revealed that there is a fixed price per call made to the line and when the small amount of dormant accounts funds remaining are expended the service will cease to exist. We are in the paradoxical situation whereby the more successful this initiative is the quicker it will be pulled by government." "This cost effective service allows the public to report drug dealing confidentially and safely. The Gardaí cannot be expected to deal with the drug situation alone. It is particularly worrying that the government has withdrawn this virtually cost free service as it would indicate they are abandoning the fight against drugs. Proper vestment now will bring about long term human and financial benefits. Generations of young people will avoid the horrors of addiction, associated drug crime rates will fall and the number of addicts seeking treatment will also decline. I call on the government to think again and find the means to keep this valuable programme going."

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