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Home > 60. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has plans to review the regional drugs task forces, in view of the size and population of some of the areas that the task forces have to serve. [32604/07]

[Oireachtas] 60. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has plans to review the regional drugs task forces, in view of the size and population of some of the areas that the task forces have to serve. [32604/07]. (05 Dec 2007)

External website: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2007/12/05/00027...


Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Pat Carey): The ten Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTFs) were set up under the National Drugs Strategy in 2003 and their areas of operation correspond with the Health Board areas of that time. This approach was taken given the importance of the health aspects of the Strategy and the general aim of achieving coherence with regard to regional boundaries.

Following extensive consultation processes, each RDTF prepared a Strategic Plan and the implementation of these Plans is now progressing. Having met with all the Local Drugs Task Forces since my appointment, I am now involved in a series of meetings with RDTFs. Indeed, I met with the South East RDTF in Waterford last week and the North West in Sligo on Monday of this week. While the rate of progress made has varied, I am satisfied that a real impact is now starting to be made. Expenditure trends bear this out, with approximately €7.5m being spent this year. This will increase further in 2008 as the RDTFs progress towards the full implementation of their plans, which have a full cost of approx €14m p.a. While one could decide on RDTF boundaries in many ways — for example, based on the number of problem drug users, population or geographic coverage — I feel that the current regional breakdown is operating reasonably well. I might point out that it is open to RDTFs to organise their work in ways that best suit their needs and some have established a number of sub-committees on a geographic and/or thematic basis.

Meanwhile, initial steps are now being taken in my Department in the process that will lead to the development of a new National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009–2016. This will facilitate the consideration of all aspects of the Strategy, including RDTF boundaries, if this issue is raised as part of the process. Vol. 643 No. 1 Written Answers Wednesday, 5 December 2007

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