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Community sporting facilities can play important role in preventing drug use – Seery Kearney

18th February 2024 - Mary Seery-Kearney

Support for sports and community infrastructure must be taken seriously as an essential part of the preventative support measures against drug use, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Mary Seery Kearney said: “The agreement by Cabinet to establish a special purpose joint Oireachtas committee to reflect the recommendations from the Citizen’s Assembly on Drug Use is very welcome news and a commitment must be made to ensure that sporting organisations form part of this initiative.

“The report from the Citizen’s Assembly makes 36 recommendations, all of which reflect the urgent need to view drug use primarily as a health and wellbeing issue rather than through a criminal justice lens.

“I particularly value the recommendations in the report that call for a review of services in socially disadvantaged areas to support those most vulnerable to being preyed upon for the use and sale of drugs, and where young people are likely to being groomed to criminality by drug crime gangs.

“Strengthening the work of Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces is vital in the combatting of impact of drugs in communities. I am a chair of the Dublin 12 Drugs and Alcohol Task Force and I see first hand the hard work of those on the ground engaging with young people as a very successful prevention strategy.  Their work needs to be supported by young people having access to sports and community facilities as options for positive affirming expressions of their youth.

“In recent days and weeks we have heard organisations like Sporting Liberties, who represent sports organisations in the Dublin 8 area, calling for the urgent provision of sporting facilities in their area.  There is not one local playing pitch for organised competitive sport in that postcode for the over 8,500 children under the age of 17.

“The Donore Community Drug & Alcohol Team, which annually commemorates those who have died prematurely due to problematic drug and alcohol use in the area, reported 79 deaths at their 2023 service, with the majority being local young people. Action is needed to prevent these tragedies in great communities like Dublin 8.

“In response to this and in acknowledgement of the significant number of recommendations in the Citizen’s Assembly report that reflect the need for sustained community support targeting areas that are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of drug use, I will be writing to the chair of the committee, once established, to seek that the forthcoming Joint Oireachtas Committee on Drug Use hold a module to hear from organisations like Sporting Liberties who have a very strong role in preventative action.

“Part of achieving safer streets and stronger communities involves recognising and amplifying the role that sports and community initiatives play in our strategy against drug use. It’s about building resilience at a grassroots level, ensuring every effort is made to integrate these vital parts of our community into our broader preventative measures,” Senator Seery Kearney concluded.

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