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Pike, Brigid (2006) New social partnership agreement addresses drugs and alcohol. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 19, Autumn 2006 , p. 7.

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Published in June 2006, Towards 2016: Ten-Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006–2015 1 adopts a new lifecycle framework to address key social challenges that individuals in Irish society at different stages of life will face over the next 10 years. This means a focus on the needs of children, young adults, people of working age, older people and people with disabilities. The lifecycle framework will place these stages at the centre of policy development and delivery, assessing the risks facing individuals at these various stages and the supports available to them to address those risks. An agreed vision and key long-term goals for each stage of the lifecycle are identified in the framework Agreement, together with a programme of agreed priority actions in pursuit of each of the long-term goals.

The issues of illicit drugs and alcohol are addressed in relation to children (0–17 years) and young adults (18–29 years).

o         The Agreement contains a commitment, identified as a priority action in relation to children, to monitor prevalence trends in smoking and substance use through the National Health and Lifestyle Surveys and the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) (Towards 2016: Section 30.2).

o         A cross-departmental team chaired by the Office of the Minister for Children is developing an initiative to test models of best practice which promote integrated, locally-led, strategic planning for children’s services. The initiative will focus on children who are at risk of suffering from multiple disadvantage relating to poverty and social exclusion, and on vulnerable families exposed to, among other things, risks from substance abuse (Towards 2016: Section 30.3).

o         Young adults are recognised as having three particular health needs – combating substance misuse, reducing alcohol-related harm and the prevention of suicide. While not identifying any priority actions or innovative measures in relation to substance misuse or alcohol, the Agreement notes the establishment of a fifth rehabilitation pillar in the National Drugs Strategy, the potential for better co-ordination between the areas of drugs and alcohol, and the allocation of additional funding in 2006 to develop drug-related facilities and services for young people. It notes that the recommendations of the Working Group on Alcohol, established under Sustaining Progress, will be implemented. (Towards 2016: Section 31.3)

Under the heading of Road Safety, Towards 2016 endorses the passing of the Road Traffic Bill 2006, which provides the necessary statutory backing for a range of specific measures set out in the Road Safety Strategy 2004–2006. The Agreement prioritises the need to introduce mandatory roadside alcohol testing. It makes no reference to drug driving or to mandatory drug testing.Subsequent to the release of the Agreement, on 19 July 2006 the Road Traffic Act 2006 came into effect. Under the Act, the gardaí have the power to carry out mandatory roadside alcohol testing. Drivers who are breathalysed and found to be over the legal limit2 will face between three months and four years off the road.  Those who refuse to give a breath test face two years off the road. 

The new ten-year framework Agreement outlines the governance framework and monitoring mechanisms that will support implementation of the Agreement. The Steering Group established under Sustaining Progress 2003–2006 will be reconvened and will assume overall responsibility for managing the implementation of this Agreement. As heretofore, there will be ongoing quarterly meetings to review, monitor and report on progress, and an annual formal meeting of all parties to the Agreement. In addition, the Agreement provides for a streamlined outcomes-focused approach to monitoring and reporting of progress on social inclusion matters under the lifecycle framework. A formal review will be conducted during 2008. Furthermore, government has committed to involving the Social Partners in the development of policy, to ensuring meaningful input by the Partners into the shaping of appropriate responses to individual policy issues and the design of implementation arrangements, and to providing the Social Partners, with sufficient notice, information and appropriate processes for engagement. 

1 See H Sinclair ‘Driving while over the legal limit for alcohol or under the influence of drugs’ on p.5 of this issue for a definition of the legal limit for alcohol on the breath.

Item Type
Article
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 19, Autumn 2006
Date
July 2006
Page Range
p. 7
Publisher
Health Research Board
Volume
Issue 19, Autumn 2006
EndNote
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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