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Mary Lou McDonald welcomes EU Drugs Strategy

15 December, 2004

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has this morning welcomed a proposed European Strategy on fighting drugs for 2005 - 2012. The proposal is due to be voted upon in the European Parliament this afternoon. Giusto Catania, Rapporteur to the EU Parliament, proposed the report.

Speaking before the vote Ms McDonald said that Sinn Féin viewed this strategy as an EU commitment towards combating the growing drugs problem'.

Ms McDonald further commented that the proposed strategy was an indicator that the current EU Anti-Drugs Strategy 'was failing'.

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms McDonald said:

"Both myself and my colleague Bairbre de Brún MEP will be supporting this proposal when it is presented to the European Parliament today for ratification. Sinn Féin has a long record of engagement with local communities throughout Ireland on the drugs issue and we endorse any attempt to rethink current anti-drugs strategies whether in Ireland or at an EU level.

"The objective of this proposal is to give priority to protecting the lives and health of users of illicit substances and improving their well-being through a balanced and integrated approach to the problem. We also support the report's recommendation that there should be an increase in the availability of harm-reduction programmes, with specific reference to the prevention of the spread of HIV and other blood diseases, common amongst many drug users.

"Another recommendation of this report is for the establishment of rehabilitation programmes for users as an alternative to prison. There is a growing realisation of the need for a holistic and comprehensive approach to the provision of drug treatment programmes and other services for drug users. However, such programmes require flexibility and sensitivity in balancing the rights of the individual, their families and the needs of the community.

"We require a new approach if we are to successfully tackle the drugs problem. This report goes some small way to achieving this, and is an indicator that the current EU Anti-Drugs Strategy is failing. Sinn Féin recommends this report as a small step towards effective prevention and rehabilitation strategies." ENDS

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