Home > Misuse of Drugs (supervised injecting facilities) Bill 2017: report and final stages.

[Oireachtas] Misuse of Drugs (supervised injecting facilities) Bill 2017: report and final stages. (30 Mar 2017)

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

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: I move amendment No. 5:

In page 4, line 29, to delete “and An Garda Síochána” and substitute “, An Garda Síochána and Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces.”.


As the Minister of State knows, I am very much in support of medically supervised injecting centres. However, issues have been coming up in the work I am doing in my constituency and also in a number of committees on which I serve. There was a concern that the Garda should be informed if the person who is making use of the injecting centre is no longer eligible to be there as a prescribed user. That is what this amendment addresses. It is a question of keeping in mind the best reputation of these centres, to allow their work to be done in a fair and impartial way and also in a dignified way that respects those who are using them. There would be concerns that if somebody was no longer eligible and this was not known there could be an abuse of the services at the centre.


Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): With all due respect to Deputy O’Sullivan, I do not consider that this amendment is necessary nor that it adds anything further to the Bill, since under this section the Minister is already enabled to consult with local drugs and alcohol task forces when determining whether to grant a licence.


Under section 3(2), as published, the Minister is not restricted to the stakeholders that can be consulted with in determining a licence application. In different areas, and in different circumstances, certain stakeholder groups will be better placed to advise the Minister on a licence application.


Deputy Jack Chambers:  I understand where Deputy O'Sullivan is coming from. On Committee Stage, I raised the prescriptive nature of the consultative process that may have to occur. What the Minister of State said then was that there is a proper process of consultation, in the context of the Garda and the various stakeholders, which occurs through the regulations that are published. On Committee Stage, the Minister of State also said that if she prescribed a certain body and excluded others from the consultation process, it could have an adverse effect on the legal interpretation of the Bill. I take her word that this is what the Attorney General has advised her. However, the consultation process is really important and will have to be detailed further when regulations are published.


Fianna Fáil supports this Bill and what it is trying to achieve.


Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: The Minister of State might clarify how it will be determined and known if somebody is no longer eligible to have a service in the centre. This would be in the interests of the other people in addiction using that service. There is a broader issue around the licence and the liability of the person or centre holding it. Aspects of this are not really clear in the Bill. Obviously, the person in addiction takes a certain amount of responsibility; it is not a "Big Brother is watching you" kind of situation. However, if by any chance they contravene the conditions for being in the centre, it would be in their own interests and in the interests of those supporting them that this would be known. How will it be known and what will happen? What is the procedure in those circumstances?


Deputy Catherine Byrne: I may have misunderstood what Deputy O'Sullivan said in the beginning. Amendment No. 7 was ruled out of order, even though the Deputy spoke on it.


An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: We are discussing amendment No. 5.


Deputy Catherine Byrne: gave the response to that amendment. It will be down to the people who will be charged with running the centre to determine the use of the centre. That will come out in the consultation process, when there will be an opportunity to make clear how the persons or place will be determined by those who are going to run the centre. They will continue to brief people, in public consultation, on who will be using the centre and who will not be able to use it. There are no restrictions in legislation currently as to who will be using it. They will be identified by An Garda Síochána. There will not be anybody selling drugs within the centre. That will not be allowed anyway. There will be public consultation but it does depend on whoever is going to be given the opportunity to run the centre; that part of the legislation can be interpreted by those who are going to run it.


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