Home > Government reports progress on new drug initiatives.

Pike, Brigid (2005) Government reports progress on new drug initiatives. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 16, Winter 2005, pp. 14-15.

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In June 2002 the incoming Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrat government published An Agreed Programme for Government, setting out its priorities for 2002–2007.1 While broadly endorsing the Supply Reduction, Prevention and Treatment pillars of the National Drugs Strategy, the new government also pledged to undertake five new initiatives designed to contribute to achieving drug-free prisons, reducing drug supply and improving information regarding the drug situation. Progress in relation to these pledges, as outlined in the government’s most recent annual progress report, published in July 2005,2  is set out below.

We will provide for compulsory drugs testing of prisoners where appropriate.

In mid-2005 new Prison Rules were published, including specific provision for mandatory drug testing. Mandatory drug testing is one of a raft of new measures intended to render Irish prisons drug free, which are contained in the new Drugs Policy and Strategy for the Irish Prison Service, announced by Michael McDowell TD, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, on 21 November 2005. The drive to eliminate all drugs and drug use in prisons is balanced in the new strategy by a commitment to underpin and expand existing treatment services, which involve a combination of detoxification, methadone maintenance and reduction programmes, education and awareness programmes, addiction counselling, drug therapy programmes and psycho-social support.

Where a person has been found to be involved in the supply of drugs to a prisoner we will introduce a stiffer penalty.

An amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, introduced during the Committee stage, will create a new offence of supplying drugs to prisoners.

We will require convicted drug dealers to register with the Gardaí after leaving prison.

An amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, introduced during the Committee stage, provides for the registration of convicted drug dealers on a drug offenders held by the Garda Síochána. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform recently indicated that this proposal is based on the same principles as the sex offenders register and will enable the movement of convicted drug dealers to be recorded in a similar fashion, covering change of address and movement in and out of the State.3

We will ensure that an early warning system, involving all key agencies, is in place to track the potential spread of heroin into new areas.

Recognising the time-lag limitations of many of the traditional drug-use indicators, the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) is pilot testing aspects of a Drug Trend Monitoring System (DTMS). The aspects being pilot tested include the establishment of a Trends Monitor Network throughout the country to provide local knowledge on drug trends, the monitoring of media reports on drug-related court cases and seizures, and the running of drug-user focus groups at local level to gain an understanding of drug-using behaviour. The aim of the system is to obtain information on emerging drug-use patterns and trends on a more timely basis. This information will be used to complement the existing drug indicators. A report on the pilot DTMS has been submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion for consideration.

We will continue to prioritise heroin and cocaine for intervention, and will publish separate national targets for supply reduction for each major type of drug.

In reporting on this initiative, the government indicates that it accepts the following key performance indicator in the National Drugs Strategy: ‘A key indicator in the Strategy is to increase the volume of opiates and all other drugs seized by 25% by end of 2004 and by 50% by end 2008, using 2000 seizures as a base.’ While representing successive aggregate targets, the government has chosen not to specify separate targets for each major type of drug.

The drugs issue and social inclusion

In its Agreed Programme, the newly-elected government also initiated actions seeking to build an inclusive society that will also impact on the drugs issue. The promotion and piloting of local corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives as part of its agenda for community, local and rural development, for example in areas affected by drugs and social or rural disadvantage, was one such action. In its recent progress report the government indicates that CSR projects could include provision by companies of work experience for the long-term unemployed, sponsorship of third-level education for disadvantaged students, mentoring of business start-ups by unemployed people, and financial support of homework clubs and breakfast clubs in disadvantaged schools.

Under the heading ‘Regenerating urban communities’, the incoming government also pledged to continue the Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF) and complete a comprehensive survey of the availability of recreation facilities in disadvantaged areas. In its recent progress report, the government reports that, to date, total allocation under the Fund is almost €85 million, and that a round of capital funding, also announced in July 2005, will allow for over 40 youth and community facilities in 10 local drugs task force areas to be upgraded and refurbished.

1. Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats (2002) An Agreed Programme for Government between Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats. Dublin: Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats.

2. Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats (2005) Government progress report on the implementation of An Agreed Programme for Government between Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats. Dublin: Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats.

3. McDowell, Michael (2005, 7 September) ‘Presentation on the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights’. Official Report Parliamentary Committees (29th Dáil) Vol. 95.



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