Home > Dail Eireann debate. Covid-19 (Health): statements [Crime and forums].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Covid-19 (Health): statements [Crime and forums]. (17 Jun 2020)

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

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan: My colleague, Deputy O'Reilly, referenced the issue of drugs in the context of Covid. It is one of the issues I wish to raise with the Minister now. Since the lockdown started, people have become acutely aware of drug dealing in their localities. It has been much more visible because they have been at home watching it happen. We do not fund this sector enough. The funding that has gone into drug and alcohol forums has not replaced the funding that was cut as a result of Fianna Fáil crashing the economy in 2008. I am a member of the drugs task force in Limerick and the regional drug and alcohol forum. Between 2008 and 2011, our funding was cut by up to 50%. That amount has not been reinstated. We have a major problem. 

Obviously, Covid-19 has affected all front-line services. In our context, most of the staff involved cannot be out and about, so I commend all those staff who have been out and about and doing the best they can in difficult circumstances. 

There was good news from Limerick this morning. It saw the largest Garda raid in the State this year, with 60 houses and other premises raided in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary. A number of drug seizures and arrests were made, which we welcome. I commend the Garda Síochána. I also commend the Defence Forces, which I believe were also involved, the Criminal Assets Bureau and, most importantly, the local residents who gave some of the information that led to the arrests. 

My first question is about the programme for Government that was announced recently and printed a day or two ago. I have it in front of me. It makes no commitment to increase funding for drug and alcohol forums. We know what will happen if that is the case….I have in part asked my final question already. Does the Minister believe that the funding for drug task forces under the programme for Government will be enough? 

Deputy Simon Harris: I do not want Deputy Quinlivan to believe that I can be held accountable for a draft programme for Government, but I take the serious point that he makes about supporting drug and alcohol forums. We need to see increases in their funding in future budgets. That will be a matter for a new Government and this Oireachtas. 

I share the Deputy's view of the incredible work being done by staff in our addiction services. We have seen that in the low level, thank God, of Covid infections among certain communities, including the homeless.

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