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Government not dealing with drugs problem - Cullinane

30 July, 2004


Waterford Sinn Féin Cllr. David Cullinane has said he is not surprised at the news yesterday that the highest numbers of people presenting for drug treatment in Ireland are in the South East of the country. Cllr. Cullinane was speaking after the publication of a study from the Health Research Board which revealed that drug-related problems have trebled outside the Eastern Regional Health Authority's area in recent years. Cllr. Cullinane said the government first needed to accept that the drugs problem goes further than Dublin and then come to terms with the fact its drugs policies aren't working.

Cllr. Cullinane said:

"There is nothing new in this study today and truthfully, I am not surprised at its findings. The South-East has always been a gateway for drugs coming into Ireland, making its inhabitants even more vulnerable to their clutches. Today there are very few towns or villages that have escaped the effects of the drug scourge, but the government seems to think that only Dublin has a drugs problem. Unless it starts to tackle the growing drug culture throughout Ireland, by addressing social and economic inequalities, drugs will continue to be a fact of life in our society and the government will have condemned future generations to the consequences of drug abuse.

"Sinn Féin is calling for:

-the establishment of community drug teams involving local GPs, social workers, voluntary and community agencies in areas already affected by the problem;

-the 'Drug Prevention Programme' (Primary schools) and the 'On Your Own Two Feet' Programme (Secondary schools) to be implemented in all schools;

-greater recognition and strengthening of community involvement in tackling this issue;

-local drugs task forces to be truly representative of communities and community groups to be given equal status and funding with the statutory and voluntary groups at decision-making level of these task forces;

-all local authorities to follow the courageous example of those corporations who have faced up to known drug dealers and refused to house them;

and finally,

-the immediate development and introduction of long-term rehabilitation programmes which equip young people for a purposeful life after drug addiction.

"If the government takes the initiative and implements these measures, we can start to bring an end to this heart-breaking problem."ENDS

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