Home > CityWide groups meet to plan renewed campaign.

Connolly, Johnny (2014) CityWide groups meet to plan renewed campaign. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 48, Winter 2013 , p. 9.

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Community groups and representatives, supported by the National Voluntary Drug Sector, held a campaign meeting on 23 October  in a Dublin city centre hotel.1 Setting the meeting in context, Anna Quigley of Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign stated: 

All the evidence confirms that our communities are now coping with an increasingly complex and chaotic drug problem that includes a mix of legal drugs, illegal drugs and alcohol. Within this mix, there are different patterns of drug use in different areas and for different age groups but there is one common thread – the enduring link between disadvantage and serious community drug problems.
 
She also identified a ‘gradual and continuing decline in political will to address the drugs problem over the last number of years’.
 
In support of this contention, and keeping in mind the history of the National Drugs Strategy with its focus on a partnership approach reflected in the establishment of local drugs task forces, and liaison between state agencies and government departments, Quigley observed: ‘For the first time since the Rabbitte Report in 1996, there has been no national drugs co-ordinating committee in place for most of the past year and proposals for a new committee are continuously being put on hold.’ These themes were further underlined in the opening section of the meeting in a short DVD featuring the six people who represent the community sector on national bodies.2
 
Social and economic analyst Brian Harvey showed how the community and voluntary sectors and the services that they deliver have been particularly targeted for cuts in recent years, both through policy and funding decisions.3 Severe financial cuts since 2002 have, he said, resulted in a 37% reduction in the drugs initiatives budget between 2008 and 2014. This erosion of funding, he pointed out, contrasts with a 7.1% cut in overall government spending.
 
This presentation was followed by workshops where participants were asked to respond to the question ‘What are the main ways in which drugs are impacting on your community now?’
 
The following key drug problems were identified across all workshop groups:
·         reduction and depletion of community resources and services;
·         drug-debt-related intimidation and drug-related violence in communities;
·         decline in physical and mental health of drug users, and premature deaths; 
·         concerns about young people engaging in harmful practices;
·         the normalisation of drug use and drug taking in communities; and
·         concerns and impacts of polydrug use.
 
Following a short question and answer session, it was agreed at the meeting that a number of short video clips, with messages about what is happening in communities, would be prepared by CityWide for use on social media and for circulation to politicians and others. Also, the meeting called for Alex White TD, Minister of State at the Department of Healthwith special responsibility for the National Drugs and Alcohol Strategy, to set a date for convening the National Co-ordinating Committee on Drugs. Finally, it was agreed that a major campaign meeting would be organised for January 2014.
 
 
1. A full report of the meeting is available at: www.citywide.ie/publications
2. The community representatives are: Joan Byrne and Ger Kirby, Drug Advisory Group (DAG); Declan Byrne and Gary Broderick,National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA); Teresa Weafer, National Drug Rehabilitation Implementation Committee (NDRIC); and Fergus McCabe, Oversight Forum on Drugs (OFD). See video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hLf7D2n33g 
3. See Brian Harvey’s presentation at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtqYABr6adY 
Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 48, Winter 2013
Date:January 2014
Page Range:p. 9
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 48, Winter 2013
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:MA-ML Social science, culture and community > Community action > Community development
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
MA-ML Social science, culture and community > Community action > Community involvement

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