Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 392 - Ministerial Responsibilities [10085/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 392 - Ministerial Responsibilities [10085/15]. (10 Mar 2015)

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392. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health his plans to have a Minister with responsibility for tackling illegal drug abuse in view of the effect this abuse has on communities across the State; if a Minister will be appointed in view of the fact that such a role has existed for the past 20 years; the measures planned and in place to tackle these problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10085/15]


Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 is a cross cutting area of public policy and service delivery which requires a coordinated response to tackling the drugs problem. As Minister for Health, I have overall responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy at Government level. The Oversight Forum on Drugs, which I chair, is responsible for the high-level monitoring of the Strategy, and solid progress is being made in delivering on its objectives across the five pillars of treatment, rehabilitation, prevention, supply reduction and research.


Drug law enforcement remains a key priority for the Government. Drug seizures play a critical role in disrupting crime gangs and in helping to protect communities from the destructive impact of drugs misuse and associated criminality. Drug seizures valued at approximately €62m were made by An Garda Síochána during 2014. This does not include a joint operation involving An Garda Síochána, Revenue Customs Service and the Naval Service which led to the interception of a yacht off Ireland's south-west coast in September 2014 containing cocaine with an estimated street value at that time of over €70m.


There have been marked improvements in access to treatment services. At the end of December 2014, 97% of clients over the age of 18 accessed treatment within one calendar month of assessment, and 100% of those under 18 received treatment within one week of assessment. There is much wider coverage of needle exchange services outside the Dublin area, with more than 130 community pharmacies recruited and trained. In a major effort to reduce drug-related deaths, the HSE is undertaking a pilot project to make the life-saving drug naloxone more widely available to treat overdoses. Naloxone reverses the effects of drugs like heroin, morphine and methadone if someone overdoses.


The budget of Drug and Alcohol Task Forces has also been protected, with €29m provided for local drugs initiatives this year. An additional €2.1m has been provided in the HSE budget this year for measures targeting vulnerable problem drug users, including enhanced residential detoxification and rehabilitation facilities.


I am committed to working with my colleagues across Government to ensure full implementation of the National Drugs Strategy. My Department is beginning work on the development of a new National Drugs Strategy for the period after 2016. The process will include a comprehensive consultation with key stakeholders and the public on the current national drugs policy and future priorities. It will also take account of evidence-based research, information and data sources on the extent and nature of problem drug use in Ireland. As Minister with lead responsibility for drugs policy and Chair of the Oversight Forum on Drugs, I will play an active role in the development of the new Strategy and I look forward to engaging with all interested parties in this work.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
10 March 2015

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