Home > Dail Eireann debate. Drugs-related deaths.

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Drugs-related deaths. (05 Feb 2015)

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Deputy Seán Crowe: According to the Health Research Board’s national drug-related deaths index due to poisoning by alcohol and other drugs between 2004 and 2012, a total of 5,289 people died.


(Speaker Continuing)


[Deputy Seán Crowe:] That is the size of the population of a small town. Is the Minister shocked by these figures? Why is this issue not being discussed? It certainly is not being reported on in our newspapers. I do not know if it is being discussed at Cabinet level. The people affected are from communities similar to the one in which I live. Many of those active in drug prevention and rehabilitation, the Garda Síochána and other service users believe the number of drug-related deaths is much higher. The number of deaths in 2012 was 633, which is a slight decrease on the number for the previous year. Since 2004, there have been 84 drug-related deaths in Tallaght. The number for 2012 is 14, which is, again, an increase on the figure for the previous year. Poly-substance abuse, including methadone and heroin, is responsible for the highest number of deaths.


At a conference on alcohol organised by the Tallaght drugs task force in Rua Red last year Dr Joe Barry said that in Ireland alcohol is responsible for 88 deaths per month and 1,500 hospital beds being taken up each night. It is also responsible for 50% of drownings and fire fatalities, one in every ten psychiatric admissions, is the most common date rape drug, and is linked to 50% of suicides. A response to alcohol issues has been added to the workload of task forces. However, there have been multiple cuts in the core services of task forces over the past five years, including a 29% cut in the Canals Area; a 25% cut in Ballyfermot; a 37% cut in Dublin North East; a 30% cut in Finglas, a 23% cut in Tallaght; a 35% cut in Blanchardstown and a 24.7% cut in Walkinstown. Their workload has increased but they have no new additional resources to tackle emerging needs.


Does the Minister accept that the problem of drugs and their availability is getting worse? Does he accept it is more overt and is he aware of increased intimidation around drug debts? Addicts, dealers and runners are getting younger. Does the Minister accept that we need a dedicated Minister with responsibility for drugs and, if so, will he relay that to his Cabinet colleagues? CAB recovered and seized resources need to be redirected to the communities most affected. This has been proposed for many years. Perhaps the Minister will take it on board today.


We need more detox and residential beds. This is an issue highlighted by all task forces. Education and rehabilitation are key in terms of the response to the drugs epidemic. Does the Minister agree that it is unacceptable that the Department of Education and Skills does not tie into task force meetings? Is he aware of the multiple doctors prescribing drugs to addicts and can anything be done about this through the medical council or the Department of Health? Is the Minister aware of the sale of drugs outside schools and rehabilitation centres? Should dealers caught dealing outside these venues be given heavier sentences, as happens in other jurisdictions? Does the Minister believe new legislation in this area is needed?


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