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Home > Dail Eireann. Topical Issue Debate -Drug and Alcohol Task Forces.

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann. Topical Issue Debate -Drug and Alcohol Task Forces. (24 Jan 2019)

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


Deputy John Curran I wish to raise with the Minister of State the level of funding for the local and regional drug and alcohol task forces. I thank the Minister of State for the time she took last week to meet and update me on the progress of the implementation of the current drug and alcohol strategy. During that meeting we discussed a number of issues. One issue I highlighted was my concern at the level of funding the local and regional drug and alcohol task forces receive. That funding relates to regional and local drug and alcohol task forces. I believe that the Minister of State is sympathetic and that she understands the problem. The problem is that we have to convince the Minister of State's colleagues and members of Government that this issue needs to be addressed.

 

It is worth putting onto the record of the House that the proposed funding for 2019 is exactly the same level of funding that was made available in 2018. The 2018 finding was the same as the 2017 budget, as it was for 2016, 2015 and 2014. For all of those years the budget allocation has been the same. In 2014, there was a reduction on the previous year of 2013. I understand and acknowledge that we have had a recession but we have come to a point in recovery. Drug and alcohol task forces are primarily funded by the HSE and the Department of Health. Funding going into the parent Department is increasing significantly year on year, but these projects are being left behind. The projects are struggling to survive and maintain the existing level of service, to pay the salaries of those people employed, and to meet new and emerging challenges. They are under huge pressure.

 

I have asked these questions in the past and I am aware that in her reply the Minister of State will say that additional one-off funding has been made available to improve the organisational effectiveness of the task forces, and that towards the end of the year there was additional funding. I put it to the Minister of State that if this additional one-off funding had been built into the base as core funding, we would have seen growth year on year. I have very real concerns about the effectiveness of one-off funding. It is a challenge for task forces to engage and introduce new programmes to spend that money. In real terms, when the funding runs out, the problem remains to be dealt with. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that the work done by the people involved in drug and alcohol task forces and the programmes that they support in our communities is a continual demand. It is regrettable but it is the reality. We will be facing addiction treatment and minimising its impact for a long time to come. If these programmes and projects are to be supported, they need to be supported financially.

 

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