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Byrne calls for urgent implementation of reforms to Drugs Task Forces

1st February 2013 - Sarah Meade

Fine Gael TD for Dublin South Central, Catherine Byrne, has today (Friday) called for the urgent implementation of reforms set out for the National Drugs and Alcohol Strategy, following the publication of a report detailing rising cocaine use and cannabis cultivation in Ireland.


The report published by Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) shows that Ireland has one of the highest rates of cocaine use in Europe, as well as topping the poll for use of new drugs or so-called ‘legal highs’.


“The findings of this report are very disturbing, and I am particularly concerned at the increase in cocaine use in Ireland. The proliferation of drug trafficking and cannabis cultivation in this country is equally worrying.


“A review was recently undertaken of the Drugs Task Forces, which were set up in areas experiencing the highest levels of drug abuse, particularly heroin, in the late 1990s. The review recommends a series of reforms, which I believe should be implemented without delay.


“Patterns of drug use have continued to evolve since the Task Forces were originally set up. They have done considerable work in tackling the heroin problem in Dublin over the last two decades, but we must ensure we are constantly adjusting our approach to meet the challenges of changing drug use.


“The reforms proposed include reviewing the number of boundaries of Task Forces in Dublin and a number of measures to drive the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy. More than €28 million will be spent on Drugs Task Forces this year; we need to ensure this is allocated to the projects that need it most.


“I believe we also need a renewed focus on education, in the form of a candid and comprehensive drug education programme in our schools, right up to senior cycle. We need to show a real commitment to tackling the problems of addiction and illegal drug use, which are ravaging communities in Dublin and right across the country.


“The Minister with Responsibility for Drugs Strategy, Alex White TD, has promised to bring forward further measures to improve management and control of expenditure by the community drugs
projects overseen by the Drugs Task Forces shortly. I would urge him to do so without delay.”


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