Home > Dail Eireann debate. Topical issue debate - Drug and alcohol task forces.

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Topical issue debate - Drug and alcohol task forces. (16 Jul 2020)

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

Deputy Brendan Smith - …As I have done in previous Dáil debates, I wish to highlight the particular challenges facing the Cavan Drug Awareness, CDA, Trust, which provides drug and alcohol rehabilitation services in Cavan and Monaghan. 

It has received financial support over the years from the North Eastern Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force. The current funding model is fundamentally flawed in that it is static for existing projects. For more than eight years, the funding provided to the CDA Trust has been static. This is a reduction in funding in the face of costs increasing constantly. Some additional funds were made available for new initiatives, but the projects that already operate must do so on a continually diminishing budget and this is not sustainable. 

The CDA Trust project in Cavan and Monaghan has had to raise additional funding to remain operational. This is not sustainable, particularly with the difficulties in fundraising now. As a society, we cannot afford to lose such important services. I am very familiar with the work of the CDA Trust and I have visited the centre on many occasions. I know and appreciate the commitment and dedication of the manager, Tim Murphy, and his staff colleagues, as well as the commitment of Padraig McBreen, the chairman of the board, and all his voluntary committee colleagues. 

I know many people who have benefited from the services provided by the centre. Unfortunately, many others need that support now and the suffering caused by drugs will not end tomorrow or the next day, sadly. Those community service providers need increased financial support and a new funding model. In society, there are more and more addiction problems and in many areas the only support service providers are community-led groups. We need to build on the expertise of these providers and meet the growing demand for such services. Without increased funding for such projects, they will fail and that will mean a huge loss to many communities. 

The task forces are becoming increasingly sidelined. The local partnership model has been eroded and the community and voluntary response to drug and alcohol issues is becoming increasingly HSE-led. I believe this is a negative development. We all know the HSE has more than enough challenges. Why should we not utilise to the greatest extent possible the partnership and voluntary approach, which was the model that was put in place? I appeal to the Minister of State that in reviewing the whole area of the provision of services to help with addiction problems that he will put the task force at the centre of the decision-making process and bring those task forces back to the role originally envisaged back in the mid-1990s. I again wish the Minister of State well in his work. 

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Frankie Feighan) - I advise the Deputy that the Department of Health allocates about €28 million annually via drug and alcohol task forces to support 280 community projects aimed at tackling problem drug and alcohol use throughout the country. I am aware that the CDA Trust provides a range of valuable services to individuals, families and the wider community affected by drug and alcohol use and misuse in Cavan and Monaghan. Funding of €937,800 is provided to the North Eastern Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force annually. I understand that the task force recommended funding of €212,000 to the CDA Trust in 2020.

The HSE has advised that the CDA has been provided with a full-year allocation as per the service-level agreement.

The CDA Trust also received funding from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to provide a drug rehabilitation community employment scheme.

I will respond to the Deputy's particular concerns. I understand the CDA Trust has entered negotiations with Merchants Quay Ireland to place the service provision under the MQI governance structures. These negotiations had to be delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but I can advise the Deputy that the HSE now expects an update on progress in September 2020.

In 2019 the Department provided funding of €190,000 over 36 months until mid-2022 for a strategic initiative to improve access to health services for young people in Cavan and Monaghan whose lives are affected by problematic alcohol and substance misuse. This is for young people substance misuse support services.

The HSE has provided additional funding to addiction services in the Cavan-Monaghan area in 2020 to enhance service provision to the adult and under-18 age groups. The adult services have been provided with funding for an additional counsellor, a nurse and administrative resources. The under-18 service has been provided with funding to recruit a clinical nurse specialist and a counsellor to enhance the tier 3 multidisciplinary addiction team for those under 18 years.

Repository Staff Only: item control page