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Minister Ahern should resign for paralysing drugs taskforces

27 May, 2004

Sinn Féin TD for Dublin south central Aengus Ó Snodaigh today in the Dáil took to task the Minister for State with responsibility for drugs Noel Ahern calling for his resignation over his failure to address the needs and concerns of the drugs taskforces.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"This Government produced a National Drugs Strategy in 2001 for the period to 2008. Yet, there have been no funding commitments made to the Drugs Task Forces for the last two years, since this Government‚s mandate was renewed in 2002. This has paralysed the Drugs Task Forces. They need allocated budgets as a matter of urgency. Inexplicably, the Regional Drugs Taskforces outside Dublin have not received any money yet.

"While I recognise the good work that local groups do to tackle the drugs crisis, the Government cannot claim credit for this. Minister Ahern has failed to address the specific concerns I have raised today. Despite all the evidence of a growing crisis in cocaine use in the country, the Drugs Taskforces are still waiting for a mandate to develop and provide specific, appropriate and effective programmes for cocaine users. The situation demands urgent and reasoned action backed by adequate resources, but the Government is stalling, obviously having learned nothing from the heroin epidemic that convulsed this city in the recent past. We have a situation where community groups now have to lay off valuable workers because of lack of funding or funding frozen for these vital programmes. This Minister is an utter disgrace for the lack of priority he has given this urgent issue. It is despicable to find that the sum total of monies received by all 14 Drugs Taskforces - €63 million equals that given to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund. He should resign immediately so that community groups can regain confidence in measures required to tackle the existing drugs problem.

"The Government obviously exploited the media hype about the drugs crisis, produced another in its series of strategies that promise much but go nowhere, garnered its votes accordingly, and then cynically put that strategy on a dusty shelf with all the others, in total disregard of the ongoing suffering of individuals, families and communities, particularly in working class areas such as those I represent in the South Inner City."ENDS

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