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Home > Seanad Eireann debate. Order of Business - drug decriminalisation.

[Oireachtas] Seanad Eireann debate. Order of Business - drug decriminalisation. (04 Jul 2019)


Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: I wish to raise the issue of the drug decriminalisation. I refer to the front page of today's edition of the Daily Record, a Scottish newspaper. It states:

Scotland is gripped by the worst drug crisis in Europe. It is killing people and wrecking communities. Our investigation has shown tough justice is not the cure. We must target dealers but it's time to stop treating vulnerable citizens as criminals. Our country needs powers to treat addiction as a health problem not a crime. It is time to decriminalise drug use.


The same sentiments are expressed in an open letter from Stuart Clarke of Hot Press to the Taoiseach which notes that the Taoiseach has admitted to taking illegal drugs in the past but nobody would suggest he should have a criminal record as a result. A document is due to be brought to Cabinet either this week or next week. It is the result of the deliberations of a working group on drug decriminalisation established two years ago this month. It was to report after 12 months but did not do so. Two years later, we are still waiting for the publication of its report. The decriminalisation of drugs for personal use is potentially the biggest game-changer in terms of equality in the State at this time. It touches everything from poverty, disadvantage and homelessness to crime, violence and murder. The Government, which is led by the Leader's party, has the opportunity to publish this report, take this issue seriously and to move, as have other countries in Europe, to a system in which those with an addiction are dealt with primarily and almost exclusively through the health system and treated as human beings rather than as criminals in the criminal justice system. We have spoken about this issue for a number of years. We are now at the point where the Cabinet is about to consider the working group's report. The report needs to be published and we need to move on and take seriously the issue of decriminalising the use of drugs by people who have addictions. I urge the leader to facilitate a debate in this House with the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Catherine Byrne, or the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, because we have waited too long for such a debate to take place in these Houses. We also need to have that report published and acted upon.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
4 July 2019

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