Home > Ireland: national report for 2017 – drug policy.

Health Research Board. Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2018) Ireland: national report for 2017 – drug policy. Dublin: Health Research Board.

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A new national drug strategy titled Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery: A health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025 was launched in July 2017 (Department of Health 2017). While the strategy is structured around cross-cutting goals rather than the pillars of the previous strategy, its content largely follows on from that of the previous strategy with an increased emphasis on a health-led approach to addressing the drug situation in Ireland (Department of Community 2009). It reflects the commitment made by Government in May 2016 ‘to pursue a health-led rather than a criminal justice approach to drug use’ (Government of Ireland 2016). It is also the first integrated drug and alcohol strategy in Ireland. The new strategy defines substance misuse as ‘the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol, illegal drugs and the abuse of prescription medicines’ (p. 7 (Department of Health 2017)).

 

The strategy covers an eight-year period (2017–2025), and is accompanied by a shorter-term action plan (2017–2020). The strategy’s vision is for: ‘A healthier and safer Ireland, where public health and safety is protected and the harms caused to individuals, families and communities by substance misuse are reduced and every person affected by substance use is empowered to improve their health and wellbeing and quality of life.’

 

The five strategic goals are:

  1. To promote and protect health and well-being
  2. To minimise the harms caused by the use and misuse of substances and promote rehabilitation and recovery
  3. To address the harms of drug markets and reduce access to drugs for harmful use
  4. To support participation of individuals, families and communities
  5. To develop sound and comprehensive evidence-informed policies and actions.

 

A final substantive chapter focuses on what is termed ‘strengthening the performance of the strategy’. There are two key elements to this: measuring performance, and the structures supporting the implementation of the strategy.

 

Government Departments with responsibility for implementing various actions in the strategy include: Health (overall responsibility); Education and Skills; Children and Youth Affairs; Social Protection; Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government; Justice and Equality; and, Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Summary of drug strategy evaluation

 

Unlike in previous years, there has been no progress report on the National Drug Strategy published for 2016. A Rapid Expert Review of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy was carried out as part of the development of the new drug strategy (Griffiths, et al. 2016). While this was mentioned in the 2016 National Report its findings were not published until late 2016.

 

Key new developments other than the publication of the new national drug strategy Reducing Harm’, (Department of Health 2017) described above are:

 

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was launched on 8 December 2015, but the planned legislation continues to face delays. However, as part of the new national drug strategy, there has been renewed commitment by Government to enact the Bill before the end of2017.

 

Supervised Injecting Facilities: The Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Facilities) Act 2017 was signed into Irish law on 16 May 2017. The process of introducing the first pilot facility has begun and it is expected that it will open in early 2018.

 

Medicinal cannabis has received a lot of attention in Ireland since publication of the 2016 National Report. The key activities have been as follows: progression of a Private Members’Bill on cannabis for medicinal use; publication of a Government-commissioned review of the evidence; and the access programme being established by Government in response to the review’s findings.

Decriminalisation of limited amounts of drugs for personal use continues to be discussed by stakeholders in the context of Irish drug policy. While there is no commitment in the new national drug strategy Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery: A health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025’ (Department of Health 2017) to legislate for decriminalisation, there is a commitment to ‘consider the approaches taken in other jurisdictions to the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use with a view to making recommendations on policy options to the relevant Minister within 12 months’ (Department of Health 2017).

Date:June 2018
Pages:25 p.
Publisher:Health Research Board
Corporate Creators:Health Research Board. Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
Place of Publication:Dublin
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Government and politics
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Policy > Policy on drugs and alcohol
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Financial management
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Programme planning, implementation, and evaluation > Programme planning (strategy)
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Economic policy
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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