Ó Snodaigh exposes Tánaiste's duplicity on drugs strategy
Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh has exposed government duplicity and accused the Taoiseach of "playing a deadly game of chess with the National Drugs Strategy".
The Dublin South Central TD sought and secured an adjournment debate last night with the Tánaiste and Minister for Education Mary Coughlan which was taken on her behalf by new Junior Minister Seán Connick.
Citing a variety of evidence which suggests the government have abandoned the National Drugs Strategy Deputy Ó Snodaigh focused on cuts in the field of education.
“I want to highlight the effect of Budget cuts, a 33% fatal cut in funding, to 38 Young People at Risk Mainstreamed Projects many of which are in my own constituency of Dublin South Central. Not only is there a 33% cut this year but all funding will cease next year.
“These projects employ 64 people delivering vital services targeting young people at risk from drugs including diversionary activities, one-to-one supports and supports to remain in education. These projects have all been evaluated, proven effective and mainstreamed. But they are being closed now by government without so much as a second thought.
“In my own area Ballyfermot Youth Service Peer Education is being hit with the 33% cut now and the loss of all funding at the end of the year as is Familiscope. The Ballyfermot Advance after school grants scheme has been abolished outright already. The BRU Youth Club, Dublin12 Youth Service and CLAY Youth Project in Crumlin and Drimnagh are also experiencing great difficulties as a result of major funding cuts.”
Speaking after last night’s debate Ó Snodaigh said “The Tánaiste's response to me was duplicitous in the extreme. She attempted to justify these unjustifiable cuts to schemes aimed at preventing drug abuse amongst young people by saying her department supports the Walk Tall Support Service which is delivered in primary schools. However just two days earlier her predecessor Batt O’Keefe informed me by way of response to a parliamentary question that the Walk Tall Support Service will no longer exist.
“Reversing the 33% budget cut would cost just €1 million. Securing the projects’ future next year just €3 million. Contrast that against the €7 million of Seán Ftizpatrick's debt which the government are allowing Anglo Irish Bank to write off.
“There is much to be concerned about following the re-shuffle. The government are playing a deadly game of political chess with the national drugs strategy. First Pat Carey was part-time Minister for Drugs then he was bumped to the chief whip position and John Curran took over. Now they’ve swapped back with Curran becoming whip and Carey having responsibility for drugs though not as a priority amongst the multitude of other briefs.
“This is on top of the dismantling of the National Drugs Strategy Team. That was done on the premise that a super junior ministry for drugs was to be created in its place. This is yet another broken promise.” ENDS