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Home > 14. Mr. English asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the main aspects of the national drugs strategy for which considerable progress remains to be achieved; the way in which he intends to ensure that all of the 100 recommendations in the strategy and those amended through the mid-term review of the strategy are implemented in full by the strategy's end. [23014/05]

[Oireachtas] 14. Mr. English asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the main aspects of the national drugs strategy for which considerable progress remains to be achieved; the way in which he intends to ensure that all of the 100 recommendations in the strategy and those amended through the mid-term review of the strategy are implemented in full by the strategy's end. [23014/05]. (29 Jun 2005)

External website: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2005/06/29/00012...


Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Mr. N. Ahern): The Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion agreed the report of the steering group on the mid-term review of the national drugs strategy in April and it was published earlier this month. The report is the culmination of the mid-term review, a comprehensive review process launched last year and included extensive public consultations. A steering group, chaired by my Department, made up of the relevant Departments and agencies, as well as the community and voluntary sectors oversaw the review. External consultants also assisted the steering group. The review sought to assess the impact and direction of the strategy at this mid-point stage and, in this regard, the group concentrated on identifying adjustments to the existing strategy and highlighting priorities for the second phase up to 2008. The steering group found that the current aims and objectives of the drugs strategy are fundamentally sound. There are encouraging signs of progress since 2001 when the strategy was first launched which suggest that our current approach to tackling the drug problem is proving effective. At the same time, however, the review highlights the need to re-focus priorities and accelerate the roll-out and implementation of various key actions in the remaining period of the strategy up to 2008. In this context, new actions and amendments have been identified. These changes should help strengthen the strategy and enable it to better deliver its aims. Ten of the strategy’s existing actions are being replaced, seven of the existing actions are being amended and there are eight new actions that aim to address issues such as family support and rehabilitation. The review found that 49 of the original 100 actions outlined in the strategy are completed or of an on-going nature, progress was on-going on a further 45 and there were six actions on which considerable progress has to be made. Of the six, actions 61 and 72, relating to halfway houses and drugs training for professionals, are of a long-term nature and require considerably more work to bring them about and this is continuing. Other actions are the subject of specific recommendations in the mid-term review, such as the eleventh action on the community policing fora, action 63 on needle exchange and action 77 on meeting the Oireachtas committee. On action 23, the Irish Prison Service advises that it would not be useful to undertake a review at this time. It would be more beneficial to introduce the new prisons drugs policy and to undertake the review when the new policy has been in place for a reasonable period to allow for meaningful evaluation. It is proposed that the review will be initiated in 2007. On monitoring the strategy, the mid-term review has been a very useful exercise, allowing for a stock-take of progress at this mid-point in time. The strategy will continue to be monitored through the interdepartmental group on drugs, which I chair and through the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion. The IDG meets regularly to assess progress by Departments and agencies in achieving the targets set for them and any obstacle to the implementation of any of the actions are brought to light and discussed at these meetings. Reports on the implementation of the strategy are presented to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion on a regular basis. My Department, in conjunction with the relevant Departments and agencies, will draw up a revised framework for the implementation of the recommendations in the mid-term review, including timescales. This will be presented to the IDG in the coming months.

Vol. 605 No. 4
Wednesday, 29 June 2005

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