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Home > Drug treatment programme: discussion re closure of community-based projects in Limerick.

[Oireachtas] Drug treatment programme: discussion re closure of community-based projects in Limerick. (22 Jun 2010)

External website: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/06/22/00027...


Deputy John Cregan: I acknowledge the co-operation of the office of the Ceann Comhairle to allow me to raise this important issue for my constituency. I also acknowledge the presence of the line Minister, Deputy Pat Carey. I am pleased he will have the opportunity to realise the significance of this disastrous decision for two community based drugs initiatives, one in Newcastle West, dealing with the greater west Limerick area. This programme has one employee. The second programme is also a community based programme and is based in Kilmallock. This covers the greater south Limerick area. It has one employee. I am unsure how many such programmes or support organisations are in place in Limerick city, Cork city or Dublin city, but I believe there are many. However, in my constituency there are two, one in Newcastle West and one in Kilmallock. 

Both centres are being closed down because of difficulties with resources. I acknowledge that given the times in which we live, all statutory bodies are obliged to examine their budgets and live within their means because, unfortunately, there have been shortfalls in funding as a result of the economic situation in which we find ourselves. However, I am amazed that closing down these two programmes completely has been identified as the way to make up this shortfall...
 
Deputy Pat Carey: I thank Deputy Cregan for raising this important matter and I hope to address his concerns. My Department has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the national drugs strategy 2009-2016. Solid progress is being made on the implementation of the various actions of the strategy across its five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. This is in line with the Government’s commitment to address problem drug use in Ireland in the most comprehensive way possible.
 
One of the recent highlights was the introduction of regulations by my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, under the Misuse of Drugs Acts that make the possession and sale of a wide range of psychoactive substances illegal and subject to criminal sanctions. In addition, legislation is being drafted by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform that will make it a criminal offence to sell or supply substances that are not prohibited under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but which have psychoactive effects on humans.
 
The Garda Síochána and the Customs Service continue to prioritise the targeting of those involved in the supply of drugs and I congratulate them on their recent successes in this area, both nationally and abroad.
 
From 2002 up to 2009, approximately €197 million has been made available for drugs initiatives funded by my Department, in the main through the 14 local and the ten regional drugs task forces. In 2009, some 340 projects under the local drugs task forces were supported to the value of almost €22 million. Approximately €10 million was expended to support 146 projects in regional drugs task force areas. Further funding in 2009 also supported 14 cocaine-specific projects, with an allocation of approximately €0.55 million; ten rehabilitation-specific projects, with an allocation of €0.35 million; and three drug-related projects dealing with homeless people, which received an allocation of 0.46 million.
 
In addition, capital expenditure of almost €2.12 million in 2009 supported six large scale projects, predominantly in the regional drugs task force areas, including targeted funding for Limerick city. In 2010, in excess of €31 million in current funding is being made available to fund the activities of the task forces, of which approximately €21 million is being allocated to the local task forces and €10 million to the regional task forces. This funding will support some 500 initiatives that the task forces have prioritised for investment in their respective areas. In addition, recently I announced that funding of €600,000 is being made available for small-scale capital projects in the task force areas, building on the success of a similar initiative in 2009. Applications for funding from my Department are made through the relevant local or regional drugs taskforce.
 
It is a matter for each taskforce to decide which projects to fund, based on agreed priorities for their areas and within the overall budget available to them. During 2010, in light of the economic climate, all taskforces, including the mid west regional drugs taskforce, were asked to identify savings across their areas of responsibility. I appreciate that there have been difficult choices to make but each drugs taskforce is required to work within their allocated budgets.
 
The overall funding for the taskforces this year is less than it was in 2009. In response to the reduced budget, the mid west regional drugs task force withdrew funding to projects that did not have a pay element from January to June 2010 and continued to fund projects with pay costs until the end of June 2010. During this period, an independent evaluation of all projects was carried out to ascertain the best practices and the best use of resources.
 
Independent consultants carried out the evaluation which was in two parts. First, it addressed the key actions for the taskforce and how they were being addressed and re-assessed the mid-west regional drugs taskforce’s priorities into specific actions under the five pillars of the national drugs strategy 2009-16. Second, it assessed all funded projects for their appropriateness, best practice and value for money.
 
Arising from the evaluation, eight projects were not recommended for continued funding. In regard to the seven projects, including the ones mentioned by Deputy Cregan, the evaluation recommended a re-configuration of this youth intervention to a central project to ensure better co-ordination, specialist support and intervention and best value for money. These projects will not be funded after the end of June 2010 but youth services will be brought together to develop one re-configured project to address this need. Two working groups have been set up by the taskforce to identify key priorities for education-prevention and for treatment-rehabilitation in accordance with the evaluation findings...

 

Vol. 713 No. 1
Adjournment Debate – Drug Treatment Programme
22 June 2010

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