Home > Citizens' Assembly on Drugs Use: session recording 13 May 2023.

(2023) Citizens' Assembly on Drugs Use: session recording 13 May 2023. Citizens’ Assembly.

External website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8V1euuCYloQ

Youtube session of 13 May 2023 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8V1euuCYloQ  [note, begins at 30 minutes]

[See also, Youtube recordings and presentations from April 2023 session]

The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use held its second meeting this weekend in Dublin Castle, where members will focus on the lived experience of drugs use and its impact on individuals, families, front-line workers and communities. The 99 members and independent Chair, Paul Reid, will hear from a range of speakers representing each of these experiences during four panel discussions through Saturday morning and afternoon. Sunday’s meeting will include a series of visits to two treatment centres, Coolmine and Merchant’s Quay Ireland, where members will have the opportunity to witness services first-hand and to speak with staff and people who use the facilities.

This second meeting of the Assembly follows last month’s inaugural meeting that provided members with a broad overview on national drugs policy, current trends and patterns in drugs use, and international and European perspectives on drugs use and policies. The weekend meeting focussing on lived experiences has been informed by members of the Assembly’s ‘Lived Experience Group’ that was established prior to the first meeting, and that has been tasked with specifically ensuring that the experiences of individual drugs users and their families are represented through the Assembly’s work. Through Saturday and Sunday members will have the opportunity to discuss these issues in a series of roundtables, and through Question and Answer sessions with all speakers. In addition, a representative group of other organisations working in communities throughout the country will exhibit their work and services in Dublin Castle on Sunday morning, allowing members the opportunity to meet and discuss these issues informally.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Chair Paul Reid said this was a hugely important weekend has been designed to address part of the Assembly’s Terms of Reference that ask it to consider the harmful impacts of drugs use on individuals, families, communities and wider society. Mr Reid commented, “The story of drugs use in Ireland is the story of the people who use drugs, their families, and their communities. Any consideration of what recommendations the Assembly can or should make has to have their perspective to the fore. That is why we have structured this weekend’s meeting to focus on their voices and stories.

“Through personal testimonies, site visits to treatment centres, and conversations with those at the front-line of work in our communities to treat, help and support people who use drugs use, we will have the chance to witness first-hand the true experience of drugs use. I want to thank the members of the Assembly’s Lived Experience Group for assisting us in developing this weekend’s agenda. “I also want to urge the public and interested groups to make submissions to the Assembly through our own public consultation process at www.citizensassembly.ie. We have already received over 350 submissions, each of which will be shared with all members. This represents both the importance of and interest in our work and I look forward to this weekend’s meeting being another important part of that process.”

Saturday, 13 May 2023 – Dublin Castle 

10am Formal opening by Chairperson Paul Reid
10.05am Lived experience of individuals – panel discussion chaired by Dearbhail McDonald Panellists: Karl Ducque, Gillian O’Donnell, Shannon Connors, Fionn Connolly-Sexton
Roundtable discussion and Q&A

11.45am Lived experiences of front-line workers – panel discussion chaired by Dearbhail McDonald Panellists: Elaine Kehoe (Clinical Nurse Manager, MQI); Garda Maria O’Hara; Tom McLoughlin (Advanced Paramedic, Swords Fire Station), Dr. Chris Luke (emergency physician).
Roundtable discussion and Q&A

2pm Lived experiences of families – Cathy Kelleher, Health Research Board: Analysis of the experience of affected family membersPanel discussion chaired by Dearbhail McDonald Panellists: Aileen Malone, Annemarie Sweeney, Gearaidh Mathews, Catriona Kirwan, Maureen Penrose.

3.45pm Lived experience of communities – panel discussion chaired by Dearbhail McDonald
Panellists: Jennifer Clancy, Amy Carey, John Paul Collins, Philip Jennings.
Roundtable discussion and Q&A
5.15pm Conclusion

Sunday, 14 May 2023

9.15am Assembly members will divide into four groups to visit:Coolmine Treatment Centre, Blanchardstown;  Merchant’s Quay Ireland, Dublin 2

Dublin Castle Lived Experience exhibition (10 community organisations)
11.40am Plenary Session in Dublin CastleRoundtable discussion and Q&A
1pm Conclusion

Press release:

4 May 2023 – The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use has concluded its second formal meeting in Dublin Castle, following site visits to treatment centres in Coolmine in Blanchardstown and Merchant’s Quay Ireland earlier today. The visits were arranged to provide members the opportunity to meet and discuss with staff and service users about the lived experience of drugs use.

The second meeting of the Assembly focussed on the experiences of individuals, families, front-line workers, and the impact of drugs use on the communities that they live in. Today’s site visits followed a series of panel discussions on these themes that included over 20 people telling their own experiences of the impact of drugs use on their lives, their families, their work, and the places where they live.

The 99 members and Independent Chair, Paul Reid, will meet again in mid-June at the Grand Hotel in Malahide where they will consider how the health system deals with drugs use, and will also contain a range of contributions from representatives from the community sector.

Speaking at the close of this weekend’s meeting, Chair Paul Reid, said that it had been designed to allow people to tell and Assembly members to hear the stories behind drugs use. He said this was a crucial part of meeting the Assembly’s Terms of Reference that ask it to consider the harmful impacts of drugs use on individuals, families, communities and wider society.

Mr Reid commented, “Today’s visits to Coolmine Treatment Centre and Merchant’s Quay Ireland where members met with staff and service users were humbling and eye-opening experiences. We heard the stories behind drugs use from those who have lived through it. We saw the supports they are given and that they need to rebuild their lives following drugs use.  We saw the vital work done by the staff working with people who use drugs, and their commitment to helping them lead productive lives.

“This was a unique and special weekend and one that will help the Assembly consider what additional supports and services are required when we come to make our recommendations at the end of this year.

“I want to thank all contributors and the members for the time they have given to our work over the last two days. We are continuing to develop our programme for future meetings and look forward to a wide-ranging discussion on the health system and the community sector when we meet again in mid-June.”

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