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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 37 - National Drugs Strategy [31211/06].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 37 - National Drugs Strategy [31211/06]. (05 Oct 2006)

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37. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress which has been made in each regional drug task force area over the past year; the measures which have been enacted on the ground; the impact such measures have had. [31211/06]

Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Mr. N. Ahern): Ten Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTFs) have been established to cover all parts of the country not covered by a Local Drugs Task Force, thus achieving full coverage of the country. The RDTFs are charged with researching, developing, implementing and monitoring a co-ordinated response to illicit drug use at regional level. Each Task Force has an independent Chairperson and is made of representatives from the various Departments and agencies, as well as the community and voluntary sectors. The RDTFs produced strategic plans for their respective regions, having regard to evidence available on the extent and specific location of illicit drug use in the region. An initial total allocation of €5m has been approved in 2006 to the ten RDTFs to commence implementation of their plans. It is envisaged that funding will be increased on an incremental basis to achieve the full roll-out of the RDTF plans currently estimated to cost €12m on an annual basis. Meanwhile, nine of the ten RDTFs now have full-time co-ordinators in place and the rate of progress is increasing.

The National Drug Strategy Team has been working closely with the RDTFs to get their programmes up and running. It is envisaged that 80 projects will be started by the end of 2006. These projects range from prevention initiatives and work with youth to treatment services and outreach work. Overall I am satisfied with the progress being made by the RDTFs and the increasing level of co-operation and partnership which is evident as they become more established. I have no doubt that the rate of progress being achieved will accelerate over the coming year.

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