Drug death figures an indictment of successive governments - Maurice Quinlivan
Sinn Féin Deputy Maurice Quinlivan has said the failure of successive government’s to address the issue of drugs in any meaningful way is starkly shown with the figures released today by the Health Research Board (HRB).
The drug-related death toll in Ireland in 2014 for instance was triple the number who died on roads according the data.
Deputy Quinlivan said;
"Massive cuts imposed over the years on those working in the fight against drugs in Limerick have shamefully impacted on their ability to address the situation. It also shows how out of touch many politicians really are on the issue.
“The Mid-West Regional Drugs and Alcohol Forum have taken cuts of more that 50% since 2008. Funding this year sees no increase from last year. Figures released today demonstrate the huge and growing number of fatalities caused. The level of addiction and death is truly appalling.
"There is a clear increase in drug mis-use and its related problems across Limerick. Failure to properly resources those working on the frontline to tackle the scourge of drug addiction is simply not sustainable any more. Most services will tell you that they have a large waiting lists with staff under huge pressure to deliver basic services.
“Today's report also says that two in every three people who died, did so from a mixture of drugs, with an average of four drugs involved. Benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, were the most common drug group involved in poly drug deaths. These drugs are widely available and can be purchased through the internet. It is a huge problem for teenagers particularly when mixed with alcohol.
"Official statistics also show a rise of almost 25% state-wide in the total number of people treated for illegal drug use between 2009 and 2013. It is estimated that between 800 to 1,000 people in Limerick alone are addicted to heroin.
“I believe that successive governments have not, even in the boom times, devoted anywhere near enough resources to ensure that we can tackle the blight that drug abuse is. Now is the time to invest in tackling the issue.
“Limerick City for instance has no local drugs task force. We have no detoxification centre. We clearly have a worsening drugs problem. Heroin, excessive use of alcohol and prescription drugs are huge problems across the city.
“Unfortunately there has also been an increase in the number of families being forced to pay criminals for drugs debts incurred by their relatives.
“There is no doubt that the drugs issue in Limerick City has once again worsened. The report says that two people are dying every day. The visible effects of drugs are to all too clear and can be seen with open drug dealing, discarded drug paraphernalia, and with the depressing and distressing scenes of addicts begging on our city streets.
“Our city clearly needs a local drugs task force which can focus on the issue and I would call on the Minister of State Catherine Byrne to address this as a matter of urgency.”