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Government drugs initiative woefully inadequate

10 January, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Aengus Ó'Snodaigh TD has described the Government's pilot initiatives to tackle the Country's drugs problem as 'woefully inadequate'. He said that government inaction is paralysing the Drugs Task Forces, whose work needs to be supported immediately.

Speaking in Dublin today he said:

"The first all-Ireland drug prevalence survey published last April revealed that south Dublin and Wicklow had the highest level of cocaine use in the Republic. Some 6.3 per cent of all adults in the region had tried cocaine. Among 15- to 34-year-olds in the area that figure was 10.5 per cent. This exceeded the highest national EU rate for cocaine prevalence, a figure of 8.7 per cent recorded in the UK in 2002.

"This Government produced a 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 three years, since this Government came back into office in 2002. This has paralysed the Drugs Task Forces.

"It is only now that we find ourselves in the height of a major drugs crisis that the Minister for State, Noel Ahern has pledged funding for pilot initiatives to tackle the problem. I consider this initiative to be woefully inadequate. Had the Minister provided adequate funding from the outset we might not have found ourselves in this terrible situation.

"The Government must provide urgently needed budgets to Drugs Task Forces throughout the state so that they can develop and provide specific, appropriate and effective programmes for cocaine users.

"The Government obviously haven't learned from the heroin epidemic that plagued this city in the not so distant past. All the signs of a cocaine crisis were there for all to see and if the Government's priority had been on prevention then maybe we wouldn't have a new epidemic to cure." ENDS

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