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Home > Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltact Affairs. National Drugs Strategy: Discussion with Minister of State at Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltact Affairs. National Drugs Strategy: Discussion with Minister of State at Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. (29 Jul 2009)

External website: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/TOJ/2009/07/29/00003....


Chairman: I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy John Curran, who is here to speak on the new national drugs strategy which has been of particular concern to the committee. I also welcome the Government decision to include alcohol and drugs in a combined national substance misuse policy. The Minister of State will brief us on this issue. I also welcome his officials and ask him to proceed, following which we will take questions from the committee.

Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy John Curran):  I thank the Chairman. I thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to discuss the new national drugs strategy that will cover the period 2009 to 2016. Significant progress has been made since the committee discussed the drugs issue in February. The steering group set up to develop proposals and make recommendations on a new strategy reported to me in May. Following on from that report, I submitted the new strategy to the Government and, at its meeting of 16 June, the recommendations outlined in the new national drugs strategy 2009-16 were agreed, subject to resource considerations. In line with the proposals put forward, the Government also approved the establishment of an office of the Minister for drugs to subsume the functions previously undertaken by the national drug strategy team and the drug strategy unit of my Department. I will publish the new national drugs strategy in September.

Another major step forward was the Government decision of 31 March 2009 to include alcohol and drugs in a combined national substance misuse policy, an approach strongly advocated by this committee in recent years. The new national drugs strategy will now be seen as an interim policy, pending the development of the broader substance misuse strategy, which is expected to be finalised by the end of 2010. I do not intend to outline the new strategy in detail today but it is useful to reflect on the nature of the current drug problem and the actions needed to address it.

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