Home > 51. Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his view on the fact that all local drugs task forces except two are situated in Dublin; and if, in view of the prevalence of illegal drug use and related crime outside of Dublin, he will take steps to establish additional local drugs task forces in areas such as, for example, Limerick and Waterford. [5437/08]

[Oireachtas] 51. Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his view on the fact that all local drugs task forces except two are situated in Dublin; and if, in view of the prevalence of illegal drug use and related crime outside of Dublin, he will take steps to establish additional local drugs task forces in areas such as, for example, Limerick and Waterford. [5437/08]. (14 Feb 2008)

URL: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2008/02/14/00058...


Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Pat Carey): Local Drugs Task Forces (LDTFs) were established in 1997 in the areas considered to be experiencing the worst levels of opiate misuse. Twelve areas in Dublin — Ballyfermot, Ballymun, Blanchardstown, the Canal Communities, Clondalkin, Dublin North Inner City; Dublin South Inner City, Dublin 12, Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown, Finglas-Cabra, North East Dublin and Tallaght were involved, as well as Cork City. Bray was later added in 2000. Subsequently ten Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTFs) were set up in 2003, covering all parts of the country not covered by an LDTF and thus achieving full coverage of the country.

Following extensive consultation processes, each RDTF prepared a Strategic Plan and the implementation of these Plans is now progressing. With the increased level of activity at RDTF level, I am satisfied that Drug Task Forces are making considerable progress across the country in relation to the problems of illicit drugs. A sub-group of the Mid-West Drugs Task Force has recently been established to focus on Limerick City. Last month I allocated an extra €1.3m, on top of the funding already available to the RDTF, specifically for initiatives in Limerick City. I anticipate that this funding will facilitate a significant response to the drug problems there in the short-term.

Allocations totalling €200,000 have been approved to date this year for 9 Waterford projects through the South East RDTF. Further South East RDTF projects provide benefits broadly across the whole region, including Waterford. At this point I do not feel that a separate structure for Waterford City is warranted. Meanwhile, I have established a Steering Group to make recommendations to me on a new National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009-2016. The work of that Steering Group will include the review of the operational effectiveness of the structures of the current Strategy.

52. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of meetings he has had with the drinks industry in relation to underage binge drinking and the effect of advertising of the drinks industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5569/08] Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Pat Carey): The issue of alcohol policy is primarily one for my colleague, Mary Harney, T.D., Minister for Health & Children. Consequently, I have not had meetings with the drinks industry in relation to the issues you mention. At the same time, I recognise that there is significant potential for synergies between the National Drugs Strategy and the approach to the abuse of alcohol in our society. Indeed, a Working Group on Alcohol and Drugs, chaired by Dept Health & Children, is exploring the potential for better co-ordination between the two areas and I receive regular up-dates on their progress through the Inter-departmental Group on Drugs which I chair. Furthermore, the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform has recently established the Government Alcohol Advisory Group to look at aspects of the problem pertaining to his Department. As is the case with illicit drugs, it is clear that the abuse of alcohol, including underage binge drinking, is leading to many problems in our society, particularly in regard to health, public order and crime. I am of the view that any proposals that emerge aimed at tackling these problems deserve serious consideration.

53. Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the action he has taken to implement the proposals of the final report prepared for the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs of July 2005 on the treatment of cocaine addiction with particular reference to the Irish experience, particularly in relation to aspects of the conclusions and recommendations (details supplied); if he consulted with this expert group since it presented the paper; if so, the form it took; the facilities that have been put in place to provide assessment of treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5585/08]

153. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the strategy, in view of the recent survey carried out (details supplied) regarding the use and availability of cocaine in the Tallaght, Clondalkin, Ballyfermot and Lucan areas, of his Department in tackling this widespread use; the new measures he proposes to introduce to respond to this latest crisis; and if he will support the measures recommended by the NACD and the NDST in the joint report, An Overview of Cocaine Use in Ireland II. [5867/08]

Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Pat Carey): I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 153 together. Arising from concerns expressed about the emergence of cocaine in our society in 2005, including through the report of the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, my predecessor as Minister for State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Mr. Noel Ahern, T.D., requested the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and the National Drug Strategy Team (NDST) to examine the issue and to report back to him with a set of recommendations on how best to tackle the problem. He also approved funding for a series of pilot cocaine projects and a number of programmes to train people to an appropriate level to deal with users of cocaine. Furthermore, under the Emerging Needs Fund, he approved funding in 2005/06 for 6 cocaine specific projects and 9 other projects that had a polydrug focus. With respect to the drugs education/awareness aspect of the Joint Committee report to which Deputy O’Sullivan refers, I must emphasise that a skills based approach with a focus on all drugs has been a fundamental driver of the National Drug Strategy’s prevention pillar. Through the Walk Tall programme at primary level and the Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme at second level, all school children now receive substance misuse prevention education as an integral part of their curricula up to Junior Certificate level and I have raised the issue of extending SPHE to the senior cycle with the Department of Education & Science.

On 30 January last I attended at a meeting of the Joint Committee to discuss the cocaine issue and I outlined the Government’s response to its emergence as a problem. The implementation of the recommendations of the joint National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and National Drug Strategy Team (NDST) report “An Overview of Cocaine Use in Ireland II”, to which Deputy Ó Snodaigh refers, forms the recent basis of that response. I am vigorously pursuing the implementation of the recommendations of the report with the HSE, the Gardaí, Drug Task Forces and others, through the Inter-Departmental Group on Drugs which I chair. The recommendations principally relate to treatment but also cover supply, prevention and research. With regard to treatment, some stimulant specific treatment interventions are recommended though it is accepted that drug services generally should be capable of catering for the individual problem drug user, regardless of the drugs they use. The HSE, at the last IDG meeting in December, indicated that they are satisfied that existing services can be re-engineered to meet the needs and they have rolled out a significant training programme in partnership with the Waterford Institute of Technology.

I have secured funding for initiatives to tackle the cocaine problem this year and I will be using part of this to develop cocaine awareness campaigns at a more local and regional level to dovetail with the National Drugs Awareness Campaign, which I launched last Monday and which focuses on cocaine use among the 15-34 years age group. The choice of cocaine, and the targeting of younger people, arises directly from the evidence of the 2006/07 Drugs Prevalence Survey, which itself confirmed the findings of the joint NACD/NDST report mentioned above. I am satisfied that the steps we are taking will have a real impact on the cocaine problem in Ireland.

Vol. 647 No. 2

Written Answers

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Item Type:Dail Debates
Source:Oireachtas
Date:14 February 2008
EndNote:View
Subjects:N Communication, information and education > Education and training > Educational institution > School
B Substances > Cocaine
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Basic prevention categories > Targeted prevention
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Policy > Policy on substance use
N Communication, information and education > Education by subject > Substance use education

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