Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice and Equality Niall Collins TD has called on the Government to re-establish the Office of the Minister for Drugs in order to spearhead the National Drugs Strategy. Deputy Collins made the call following a visit to the Merchants Quay Ireland Homeless and Drugs Services Centre in Dublin on Wednesday. The Minister for Drugs was abolished when Fine Gael and Labour came to power resulting in a failure to coordinate Government actions to tackle the scourge of drugs in our cities and towns.

Deputy Collins stated, “The National Drugs Strategy which was published by Fianna Fáil in 2009 has been left without a champion in Government. As a result key actions in the Strategy are failing to be implemented and the drugs crisis is worsening in our urban areas by the day. No one is monitoring the success or failure of drugs treatment or rehabilitation in Government. The Drugs Strategy currently falls under the remit of the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar since the cabinet reshuffle last summer. As we all know, that Minister is already struggling to cope with the waiting list crisis in his Department and has so far failed to make an impact there.

“I am calling on the Government to re-establish the Office of Minister for Drugs in order to bring greater political priority to tackling the drugs crisis in Ireland. All stakeholders agreed that the National Drugs Strategy, which runs until 2016, was an excellent blueprint on which to build a coherent Government strategy to address this crisis. It appears to me as if the Government have either forgotten about the strategy or are simply ignoring it because it is not a priority for them.”

“I visited the Merchants Quay Ireland Centre for Homeless and Drugs Services on Wednesday and was hugely impressed by the great work they do there. Centres such as these offers hope and comfort to people who do not have much comfort or hope in their everyday lives. I want to commend the CEO, Tony Geoghegan and all his staff for the massively positive work they do in helping the most vulnerable people in our society. These people work exceptional hours and have an incredible dedication to what they do in seeking to ease the drugs crisis. It’s time the members of this Government had the same dedication and commitment and reappoint a Minister for Drugs” said Deputy Collins.