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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Local drug and alcohol task forces: motion (resumed) [private members].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Local drug and alcohol task forces: motion (resumed) [private members]. (29 Mar 2019)

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Joan Collins on Thursday, 7 March 2019:

"That Dáil Éireann:

notes that:


— global opium production jumped by 65 per cent from 2016 to 2017, the highest ever recorded by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and global cocaine manufacture rose by 56 per cent between 2013 and 2016, reaching its highest level ever in 2016;

— illicit drugs like opium and cocaine are booming and new drugs like fentanyl are emerging as a major drug problem;

— the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s Early Warning System for new drugs monitored 670 new psychoactive substances by the end of 2017, up from 300 in 2013;

— cannabis remains the world’s most commonly used drug, with 192 million people using it in 2018;

— in the European Union (EU), over 92 million people have used illicit drugs; and

— drug markets continue to be the most significant illegal market in the EU, with over 33 per cent of organised criminal groups involved in the production, trafficking and supply of illicit drugs;

further notes that:

— over 26 per cent (more than one in four) of the Irish population have used illicit drugs, with cannabis the most widely used;

— our communities are now coping with an increasingly complex and chaotic drug problem that includes prescription drugs, illegal drugs, new psychoactive substances, high-strength cannabis, crack cocaine, crystal meth and ketamine, and widespread availability and misuse of alcohol continues to be a core part of the polydrug problem;

— 695 people died from drug-related causes in 2015, and there has been a 61 per cent increase in drug-related deaths between 2004 and 2015 and drug-related deaths are 3.5 times higher than road deaths; and

— insidious, ongoing day-to-day related intimidation is being experienced in our communities, and in 2015 less than ten per cent of people experiencing intimidation reported it to An Garda Síochána for fear of reprisal;

calls on the Taoiseach’s department to appoint a senior official to the National Drugs Strategy’s (NDS) national structures to ensure direct accountability of all agencies at national, regional and local level for their active participation in implementing the new NDS; and

calls on the Government to:

— implement its own Programme for Government commitment through the immediate allocation of an emerging needs fund to the task forces to support community drug projects in the delivery of services that can respond to current and emerging service gaps in communities;

— commit to a clear timetable for prompt implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 without further delay;

— accelerate the work of the Garda asset profilers targeting people making significant sums of money from the drug trade living in our communities;

— ensure that the new scheme proposed in the NDS for young people is developed through a partnership approach involving youth services, schools, and community drug projects;

— conclude the work of the working group on alternative approaches to criminalisation and end the criminalisation for personal use;

— strengthen the community voice across all levels of the NDS and make immediate investment in community leadership and participation programmes;

— acknowledge the relationship between addiction and mental health and commit to greater co-operation between the relevant agencies, as considered in ‘A Vision for Change’ and the NDS; and

— cease the Health Service Executive reviews of drug and alcohol task forces, with immediate effect, as these reviews are being carried out without any discussion or consultation with the national NDS committees that are responsible for supporting and monitoring the task forces, and it is incompatible with the interagency partnership approach that underlies the NDS for one agency to carry out a review and present it as a fait accompli."


Debate resumed on amendment No. 4:


To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann:" and replace with the following:

"notes that:


— the world drug problem remains a common and shared responsibility that should be addressed in a multilateral setting through effective and increased international cooperation and demands an integrated, multidisciplinary, mutually reinforcing, balanced, scientific evidence based and comprehensive approach (United Nations General Assembly);

— in the European Union (EU) over 92 million people have tried an illicit drug in their lifetime (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction);

— 14 per cent of young Europeans (15–34 years) used cannabis in the last year;

— the EU early warning system for new drugs monitored 670 new psychoactive substances by the end of 2017, up from 300 in 2013;

— in Ireland 26 per cent of the population aged 15 years or over reported using an illegal drug in their lifetime, with cannabis the most widely used (Drug Prevalence Survey);

— there was a 75 per cent reduction in the use of new psychoactive substances by young adults between 2010/2011 and 2014/2015;

— the annual number of poisoning deaths (overdose) by alcohol and/or other drugs was 348 in 2015, a four per cent decrease from 2014, and that alcohol was implicated in a third of those deaths;

— 30 new proceeds-of-crime proceedings were brought before the High Court in 2018, up from 13 in 2016, the majority of which arise from drug trafficking;

— 184 asset profiles were submitted to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in 2018, a 178 per cent increase from 2016;

— €5.67 million was returned to the State under CAB activities in 2018; and

— there were 16 formal reported incidents and 76 informal reported incidents of the use of violence or the threat of violence to enforce debts nationally in 2017;


— the implementation of the whole-of-Government strategy to address drug and alcohol misuse, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, a health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025, and the active engagement with all stakeholders, especially at the community level;

— the robust monitoring and accountability structures for the National Drugs Strategy (NDS), which involve the Minister of State, relevant Government departments, State agencies, drug and alcohol task forces, voluntary organisations and community representatives at national, regional and local level;

— the further reporting of progress on the strategy to Cabinet Committee B (Social Policy and Public Services) chaired by the Taoiseach and the associated senior officials group;

— the funding of almost €100 million provided annually by the Department of Health to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for the provision of addiction services; and

— the funding of €28 million provided annually by the Department of Health to the drug and alcohol task forces; and

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