Fianna Fáil Press Office
Cllr Catherine Ardagh
Dublin South Central

1 December 2015

Drugs Minister joins Leo in Commentator Strategy – Ardagh

Dublin South Central Candidate, Cllr. Catherine Ardagh has called on Minister Aodhan O’Riordain to act immediately on the city’s drug problem rather than presenting himself as yet another observer of it.

She commented, “He is the Minister with responsibility for this area. Clearly learning from his boss, the Health Minister, he now appears to feel that his job is to highlight the problem rather than actually get to grips with fixing it. Mr O’Riordain took journalists on a walking tour of the city to point out the scale of the problem on our streets.While anything that brings attention to the problem is welcome, he should not have been surprised by what he found. He’s also the Minister – alerting people to the problem is not his role; addressing it is.

“There is a very real and worrying problem in the capital and more needs to be done to counter drug abuse and anti-social behaviour. I have long been in favour of the establishment of a Public Order Garda Unit in the city to help the Gardaí deal with anti-social behaviour. It isn’t good enough that our streets are becoming less safe under this Government.”

On the challenge of drugs, Cllr. Ardagh added: “I raised the issue recently when I saw for myself syringes close to Christchurch Cathedral, right opposite a primary school, where a constituent had told me there is a serious problem with dirty syringes being left around. It’s so dangerous, particularly with young children playing in the area.”

However, Cllr. Ardagh was particularly critical of this Government’s role in tackling the scourge of drugs in the capital: “Is it any wonder we have a drugs problem? When Fine Gael and Labour came to office in 2011, one of the first things they did was abolish the position of Minister with responsibility for Drugs. It was an outrageous decision and showed a total disconnect between this Government and the ordinary person on the street who could have told them the Drugs problem in the city was getting worse and needed more attention, not less.

“This Government has failed across the board when it comes to crime. They closed Garda stations, cut Garda numbers and abolished the Minister for Drugs. We all know about the challenges, it would be better if the Minister started showing results rather than posting up pictures online as if it is somebody else’s problem to deal with.”

Cllr Ardagh said she endorsed Fianna Fáil’s Policy on Drugs which called for a new strategy to address the current prevalence and nature of drug use in Ireland.

“There needs to be a greater emphasis on ‘outcomes’ particularly in relation to the distribution of resources,” she added. “For example; for years seriously high levels of public funding has been dispersed via the HSE into methadone maintenance for opiate substitution in this country with little or no emphasis on progression, recovery or movement to drug free status for patients, this needs to be changed.”

Cllr. Ardagh is holding a public meeting on Crime and Domestic Violence next Wednesday, 9th December in the St. John Bosco Youth Centre, Drimnagh to highlight challenges around this issue, and many others, in the community.