Home > Dail Eireann debate. Priority question 5 - National drugs strategy [10197/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Priority question 5 - National drugs strategy [10197/16]. (17 May 2016)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

5. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if taking a harm-reduction approach to drug law reform has a role in tackling organised crime. [10197/16]

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald:  The problem of drug misuse remains one of the most complex social problems we face, causing a huge amount of harm to individuals, families and communities. The Government's response to the problem was set out in the national drugs strategy which ran from 2009 to 2016. As the Deputy is aware, the strategy is comprehensive and based on the five pillars of drug supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. The Department of Health has a lead role in co-ordinating and reporting on the implementation of the strategy and it also has responsibility for the primary legislation governing the control of substances, which is the Misuse of Drugs Act. We must work across all of these pillars to deal with the issue. The criminal justice agencies are an important part of the response but not the only part of it. I recognise the value of work across all of the different pillars, including the supply reduction target and the law enforcement targeting of those who seek to profit from drug-trafficking and the illegal trade in controlled substances. They have no regard for the damage they do.

Government policy emphasises the importance of providing opportunities for people to move on from illicit drug use through drug treatment and rehabilitation to a drug-free life, where it is achievable. I agree the provision of harm-reduction measures is very important. These include needle and syringe programmes, methadone maintenance treatment and reducing drug-related harm. All of these can facilitate recovery by providing a pathway into the services. To answer the question, it must be a multifaceted approach and we will work on a new drugs strategy from 2016 onwards. No doubt the experiences of local drug taskforces will be an important input into the new strategy.

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