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Pike, Brigid (2012) In brief. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 41, Spring 2012, p. 25.

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In April 2011 the National Review Panel set up to undertake reviews in accordance with Guidance for the HSE on for the review of serious deaths including deaths of children in care completed its first annual report, for March to December 2010. During this period, 22 cases of death were notified and eight serious incidents. Of the 22 deaths reported, four were drug overdoses. http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/Publications/services/Children/natreviewpanelannualreport2010.pdf 

On 6 September 2011 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on an EU homelessness strategy (B7-0475/2011) in which, among other things, it urged member states to make progress towards the goal of ending street homelessness by 2015; called for the development of an ambitious, integrated EU strategy, underpinned by national and regional strategies, with the long-term aim of ending homelessness within the broader social inclusion framework; called for a framework, agreed by the European Commission and member states, for monitoring the development of national and regional homelessness strategies, as a central element of the EU homelessness strategy and for this monitoring framework to address the progress of the member states towards ending street homelessness and ending long-term homelessness. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2011-0475&language=ENhttp://www.feantsa.org/code/en/hp.asp
On 20 September 2011 places on the Community Employment scheme that are ring-fenced for people being rehabilitated from drugswere the subject of a written Parliamentary Question, to which the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, responded: ‘These 1,000 community employment places are ring-fenced for persons undergoing rehabilitation from drug addiction. Specific criteria exist for these places and the eligibility for participation. These were revised and agreed with the sector in 2010/2011. Further work is under way in the context of the National Drug Rehabilitation Implementation Committee to review the allocation of these places and ensure that appropriate referral protocols are in place. Participants can be in specific drug response projects or may be in ‘mainstream’ community employment projects. It is my intention to ensure the continuation of such projects subject to the overall budgetary constraints for the community employment programme.’  http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2011/09/20/00177.asp
Between 10 and 12 October 2011 the Civil Society Forum on Drugs, organised by the European Commission, met for the 6th year in succession in Brussels. The main objective of the meeting was to make recommendations to feed into the debate around the new EU Drugs Strategy. The European Commission has accorded the Civil Society Forum on Drugs the status of a European Commission ‘expert group’, i.e. a consultative entity that provides advice and expertise to the Commission and its services. http://ec.europa.eu/justice/anti-drugs/civil-society/index_en.htm
On 12 October 2011 the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) co-published Prevention and control of infectious diseases among people who inject drugs. It outlines seven interventions to reduce and prevent infectious diseases among people who inject drugs, ranging from the supply of injection equipment, testing and vaccination to the treatment of infections and drug dependence. The ECDC–EMCDDAjoint publication is published together with a ‘Guidance in brief’ summary and with two technical reports providing a full assessment of the evidence. www.ecdc.europa.eu  www.emcdda.europa.eu
On 16 November 2011 the National Drugs Strategy 2009–2016 was the subject of a ‘topical issue debate’ in Dáil Éireann, in the course of which Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD, stated: ‘The Government is committed to dealing with the scourge of drugs in our community. … Of course, the war on drugs will continue, with the involvement of law-enforcement and customs officers. We will endeavour to have more effective treatments. I am not happy with the numbers of people who come off methadone and I am reviewing that situation. I certainly want it reflected in any new contracts given to doctors who are treating people currently on methadone.’ http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2011/11/16/00031.asp
On 17 November 2011 the Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform was launched at the House of Lords in London. It brings together countries interested in reform, countries who have successfully implemented alternative drug control strategies, and the Global Commission on Drug Policy, in order to discuss new evidence and reports commissioned by the Beckley Foundation, towards the goal of reforming global drug policy, including amendments to the UN Conventions. www.reformdrugpolicy.com
On 22 November 2011 Growing up in Northern Ireland by Sheena McGrellis was published. It examines the lives of 18 young people growing up in (and sometimes leaving) Northern Ireland between 1990 and 2010. The stories of two young women, Cynthia and Adele, among others, show how they experienced and negotiated various types and levels of risk. Living in areas where paramilitaries continued to exercise a level of control even after the ceasefires, and where sectarian attitudes were openly displayed, affected the life journeys of both young women. A growing drugs culture and a culture of binge drinking, fuelled by the energy of an expanding night-time economy, compounded the perception, and reality, of risk for many in this generation of young people.
On 15 December 2011, local and regional drugs task forces were the subject of a written Parliamentary Question from Catherine Byrne TD, to which the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Róisín Shortall TD, replied: ‘With a view to strengthening their effectiveness, I have initiated a review of Drugs Task Forces and the National Drugs Strategy structures under which they operate. In this regard, I have consulted with the key stakeholders on the future direction and role of Drugs Task Forces and this will inform the development of reforms in this area. The recommendations of a Steering Group on a National Substance Misuse Strategy will be published in the New Year. Proposals in regard to a Strategy are likely to be considered by Government in the Spring and any consequences for Drugs Task Forces arising from these will be considered at thatstage.’ http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2011/12/15/00259.asp
(Compiled by Brigid Pike)

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