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Sinn Féin publish comprehensive Dáil motion on Drugs

22 May, 2006


Sinn Féin today published the text of a comprehensive Private Members Motion on Drugs and their misuse that is to go before the Dáil tomorrow evening. Sinn Féin spokesperson and Community Affairs Seán Crowe TD said, "We believe it's the first time such a comprehensive motion has come before the Dáil.

Deputy Crowe said, "Sinn Féin believes that this motion if endorsed with cross-party support and actioned will provide the basis for seriously tackling the growing problem of drug misuse that affects all sectors of Irish society.

He said, "The motion deals with all aspects of drug misuse -- from the failure of the Health Service Executive to provide harm reduction facilities throughout the State to the emergence of a trade in crack cocaine; from the high levels of crime fuelled by the drugs trade to the issue of rights for grandparents looking after the children of their addict sons and daughters and; from the issue of resources for the Gardaí to resourcing education programmes and campaigns for children and parents.

"We believe it has to be a multifaceted approach. We believe it should be community led. It needs to involve a different approach to policing including the re-targeting of policing resources. It has to meet the needs of families in those communities most affected in terms of services and finance. And it has to involve a much wider provision of services to addicts -- services that are more flexible and available. The elimination of waiting lists for treatment must be a priority."

Deputy Crowe went on to say, "in addition to catering to the treatment needs of addicts and support services for families and communities there also needs to be a robust and relentless pursuit of major drug traffickers. We should be looking at ring-fencing funds seized from them for community development in those neighbourhoods worst affected by the drugs scourge. We also need to provide appropriate sanctions to those involved in the drug trade, including prison sentences for drug barons that reflect the devastating impact of their activities on individuals, families and communities." ENDS

That the Dáil --

Recognising the many diverse and profound problems for individuals and for society caused by the misuse of drugs, both legal and illegal;

Affirms:

  • the right of children, young persons, adults, families and communities to be protected from the harmful effects of drugs and associated crime
  • the right of all to be educated about the damaging effects of the misuse of drugs
  • the right of people to grow up in communities free from poverty, social exclusion and inequality, which are undoubtedly factors which have influenced drug misuse;

Views with grave concern the escalating impact of problem drug use in Irish society including:

  • The rapidly increasing use of cocaine throughout the country
  • The devastating effect of heroin use, in particular, in many working-class communities and now spreading to every town and village in Ireland;
  • The hurt and pain suffered by the families of addicts due to drug use, drug dealers and the inadequate and late response of statutory bodies;
  • The emergence of a trade in crack cocaine in Dublin
  • The high level of crime which is fuelled by the drugs trade
  • The damage to public health caused by growing levels of drug misuse and addiction;
  • The failure of the Health Service Executive to provide harm reduction facilities throughout the State;

Calls on the Government to --

Acknowledge the many shortfalls in policy and implementation of policy and to recommit itself to the overall strategic objective of the National Drugs Strategy 2001- 2008 which is to significantly reduce the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concerted focus on supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research;

To that end, mandates the Government to:

Ensure the relentless pursuit of major drug traffickers and ring-fence funds seized from them for community development in those neighbourhoods worst affected by the drugs scourge;

Provide for all appropriate sanctions for those involved in the drug trade, including prison sentences for drug barons which reflect the devastating impact of their activities on individuals, families and communities, as well as increased use of alternatives to prison for certain drug-related crimes where this would be more appropriate;

Increase the resources available to the Garda Síochána National Drugs Unit, Local Drugs Units and Juvenile Liaison Officers;

Ensure a genuine partnership between the Garda Síochána and local communities, given that the Garda Síochána Act 2005 failed to introduce adequate structures for accountability and genuine community policing;

Introduce local accountability structures at district level such as Community Policing Partnerships or, at least, to roll out the Joint Policing Committees and Community Policing Fora provided for by the Garda Síochána Act 2005 across the 26 Counties as a matter of urgency;

Reverse the current approach to drug abuse in prisons to ensure that prisoners have access to health care and prevention policies and services including harm reduction strategies equivalent to those available in the wider community;

Immediately formulate, resource and implement an Action Plan to combat spiralling cocaine use;

Dedicate adequate funding to significantly expand the availability of drug treatment and to eliminate waiting lists for treatment;

Encourage the Health Service Executive to return to real partnership with community and voluntary groups in addressing problematic drug use;

Expand the spectrum of services available so that all drug users who want to avail of treatment and other services can do so;

Ensure that drug users also have access to the other counselling and medical services they need, without discrimination;

Recognise the right of all grandparents looking after the children of their addict sons and daughters to be fully supported in line with provision for foster parents and accordingly increase the Orphan/Guardian Allowance;

Ensure the take-up of widespread and well-resourced education programmes and campaigns for children and parents against the misuse of drugs, in school, at home and in the community;

Seriously address poverty and inequality in this State, including educational disadvantage, and accordingly provide Early Start Programmes in all RAPID areas;

Work on an all-Ireland basis to ensure the application of the strategic objectives of the National Drugs Strategy to the island as a whole;

Appoint a Minister of State with sole responsibility for drugs issues.

- Seán Crowe, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Martin Ferris, Arthur Morgan, Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

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