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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 814 - Local Drugs Task Forces [26198/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 814 - Local Drugs Task Forces [26198/16]. (16 Sep 2016)

814. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will ensure that his Department is centrally involved and formally represented in each Local Drugs Task Force given the key role his Department plays in activation and training. [26198/16]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Leo Varadkar):  My Department is very committed to the ongoing support and implementation of the National Drugs Strategy (NDS). This is evidenced by the continued engagement of my officials with a number of national groups and committees, including the Oversight Forum on Drugs; the National Drugs Strategy Steering Group, the Focus Group on Continuum of Care and the National Coordinating Committee for Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces .

With regard to the issue of representation at Local Drug Task Force meetings, unfortunately due to reduced and re-structured staffing arrangements, representation on all external stakeholder groups has had to be reviewed and, in some cases, has had to be curtailed due to resource issues. Where there is a gap in representation on a Task Force, it has been agreed that relevant issues can be progressed through meetings with Drugs and Alcohol Task Force representatives and the appropriate Assistant Principal in the relevant DSP Division. Such meetings provide an ideal opportunity to focus directly on the key issues arising. In addition, where upcoming issues on a Task Force agenda are relevant to DSP business, a representative can be invited to attend the particular meeting.

In addition, the DSP Drug Stakeholders Group continues to progress the implementation of the new CE Drug Programme Framework. This Framework is designed to meet the needs of participants in recovery on CE in order to maximise opportunities for re-engagement in community and working life through training and development. Membership includes representatives from the statutory, community and voluntary sectors and also representatives from both the Co-ordinators Network of the Regional and Local Task Forces. This Group acts as a forum to support the DSP CE response and related issues. At the end of August this year, there were 988 rehabilitation places taken up by participants in rehabilitation.

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