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Sinn Féin would appoint Minister of State to focus on drugs issue

14 May, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said that, in government, Sinn Féin would appoint a Minister of State to focus specifically on the drugs issue. He also called for systematic social investment and drug treatment services to tackle the dugs crisis which he said was a major contributory factor to anti-social crime which is now afflicting communities across the country.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:
"The unprecedented availability of heroin and cocaine is a major contributory factor to the anti-social crime which is afflicting so many communities right across this country. The drugs culture is literally destroying families and entire communities. This is no longer a problem confined to Dublin or the major urban centres. Illegal hard drugs are now available in most villages and small towns with the attendant problems of crime and anti-social behaviour. This is now a major national issue, which requires a very focused approach at government level.
"Drug dealers have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children throughout the towns and cities of Ireland. As everyone knows, Gangland turf wars have led to an increase in shootings and murders. The government seems not to have any strategy to deal with this worsening situation.
"We have a major lack of availability of treatment services which is contributing to the overall problem. While many drug users seek treatment, they must either wait months or travel long distances. Often, the treatment they need is not available to them at all. While there are an estimated 13,000 heroin users in Dublin alone, there are only an estimated 22 detoxification beds in the state, Currently there are no methadone clinics in Cork or Limerick which means opiate users there must travel to Dublin for treatment.
"In government Sinn Féin would dedicate a Minister of State with sole responsibility for pursuing the objectives of the National Drugs Strategy, for fully funding the necessary prevention, education and treatment programmes and for co-coordinating enforcement action against the illegal drugs trade on an all-Ireland basis.
"We propose social investment, particularly in vulnerable communities as a preventative measure and would significantly expand the availability of full-spectrum drug treatment services including effective harm-reduction measures and eliminate treatment waiting lists, so that all drug users can get the services and supports they need.
"We will introduce structures to enhance community co-operation with the Gardaí in enforcement against drug traffickers and drug dealers, and increase the resources made to the Garda Drugs Units and introduce local Garda accountability structures.
"Sinn Féin representatives and activists have an unrivalled track record of working with communities to tackle the issues of drug dealing and drug addiction. We are committed to building on this work in government by mounting an effective nation-wide campaign to confront and dismantle the drugs empires and to implement a comprehensive strategy to alleviate the effects of the drugs trade through the provision of the necessary prevention, education and treatment services."ENDS

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