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National Drugs Strategy Review does not signal fresh impetus

2 June, 2005

Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South Central Aengus O Snodaigh TD has expressed disappointment that the National Drugs Strategy Mid-Term Review published today "does not give a fresh impetus to the National Drugs Strategy when that is sorely needed".

Speaking from Leinster House, Deputy O Snodaigh said:

"The National Drugs Strategy Mid-Term Review published today is commendable in much of the detail and contains many worthy proposals. Indeed, it has taken on board a number of the recommendations made by my party, particularly regarding increasing Garda resources in Local Drugs Task Force areas, extending the range of available drug treatment including detoxification and residential treatment, the expansion of service hours, treatment waiting times to be no more than one month, a greater emphasis on rehabilitation, and greater support for the families of drug users.

"Nevertheless, I am disappointed that the Mid-Term Review does not give a fresh impetus to the National Drugs Strategy when that is sorely needed. There is no tone of urgency in the document. The resourcing recommendations are weak and unspecific. Despite the fact that only 49 of 100 tasks have been completed and many are significantly behind schedule, there are no new timeframes for completion, and the review of timeframes will not be published for another three months. There is also no progress report from the Prison Service despite the fact that one was due in 2004 - now it will be delayed even further until 2007. All of these things lead me to believe that the sluggish response of this Government to the ongoing and escalating drugs crisis is set to continue, and I am not satisfied with that. This Government is just not treating this as an urgent social problem. They have moved on to other pet projects while many are suffering and even dying as a result of their neglect.

"Reading the review, you might not realise that Ireland now has the highest rate of amphetamine use and the second highest rate of cocaine use in Europe. Cocaine is now increasingly a drug of choice in my area, and crack cocaine has also gained a foothold - something I have described as a 'worse case scenario'.

"In a party submission to the National Drug Strategy Mid-Term Review I warned Minister of State Noel Ahern that urgent action was needed on cocaine and that this would be one of the main standards by which I would jugde the results of the Mid-Term Review. But the report does not set out a clear agenda for urgent action to tackle the rise of cocaine and crack cocaine. In that way it has failed the vulnerable people in my area and other disadvantaged urban areas. I want to see a specific Cocaine and Crack Cocaine Action Plan, I want it given aedquate resources to work, and I want this treated as an urgent priority by all Departments involved in its delivery - from Justice to Health to Social and Family Affairs and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

"Finally, I am calling on the Minister of Finance to make a public commitment that he will ensure an adequate injection of resources in supplementary estimates and in Budget 2006 to ensure that all the recommendations in the Drugs Strategy Mid-Term Review can be implemented in full." ENDS

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