Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for National drugs Strategy, Jack Chambers TD has called on the Government to immediately publish the new National Drugs Strategy to avoid the needless loss of life in towns and villages around the country.

The previous strategy which ran from 2008 to 2016 expired last year and a new policy, which would take account of the changing nature of drug addiction and drug use over the last decade, is now due to be put in place for the next 10 years.

The Dublin West TD explained, “There has been a pattern of change taking place since the first Report of the Ministerial Task Force on Measures to Reduce the Demand for Drugs. In the same year of its publication it was estimated that Dublin’s then 8,000 heroin addicts lived in marginalised communities.

“Decades on, according the latest report published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Ireland continues to have one of the highest drug mortality rates, with 71 fatalities per million people, the fourth highest in Europe.

“The rise of new synthetic opiates including fentanyls is complicating the concerted effort that is required to reduce the harm caused by narcotics.

“As indicated by increasing reports of non-fatal overdoses and deaths, problems related to highly potent synthetic opioids appear to be growing. However, cannabis use still accounts for the greatest share of new entrants to drug treatment in Ireland.

“It is believed that statistically two drug related deaths occur every day in Ireland. These deaths are likely to increase if we continue to attempt to tackle a 2017 phenomenon with a 10 year outdated solution.

This Government has a responsibility to devise a strategy that reflects this changing environment and that adopts tangible measures to tackle problem drug use.

“Minister Catherine Byrne must urgently set out a timeline for the publication of the new strategy. The response to date when questioned about when it will be brought to Government has not been good enough.

“It is clear that issues have arisen and are delaying this vital piece of legislation being brought to Government. The Minister should disclose what these problems are so that they can be overcome before the forthcoming Dáil recess,” concluded Deputy Chambers.