Fianna Fáil Councillor Charlie O’Connor has demanded the immediate reinstatement of a dedicated Minister for Drugs.
According to the Tallaght Councillor, the drugs crisis and drug related crime has spiralled out of control and the issue has fallen completely off the Government’s radar.
Charlie was speaking at the launch of Fianna Fáil’s Drugs Action Plan with the Niall Collins TD this week, which promises to reinstate a Minister for Drugs, implement a new National Drug and Alcohol Misuse strategy and take action to address the widespread changes in drug use.
“This is an issue very much close to my heart. I have seen the heartbreak cause by drugs in so many families across West Dublin over the years. There’s a strong sense on the ground now that this issue has totally slipped off the Government’s agenda at a time when drugs and drug related crime in our communities is a bigger problem in our communities than ever before,” the Tallaght Cllr said.
“The fact that there is no now government Minister with special responsibility for drugs has had a huge impact on the ground. The lack of political leadership has caused a breakdown in communication between the agencies and bodies working to combat drugs. This is a complex issue that involves the health authorities, the gardaí, social services and the council. There needs to be someone at the highest level ensuring cooperation between all these services. Previous Ministers for Drugs like Pat Rabbitte, Chris Flood, Eoin Ryan, Pat Carey and Eoin Ryan made this issue a political priority and it made a huge difference in terms of resources and in terms of ensuring cooperation between services on the ground.
“We have an escalating crisis with poly-drug use and with the abuse of a particularly strong, synthetic form of cannabis that can create anxiety, depression and psychosis. Throughout my work on the local Drug and Alcohol Taskforce I have seen cases of very young people caught in a vicious cycle of drug use, depression and drug intimidation. They are lured in by dealers with the false promise of a ‘harmless’ drug, which in reality bears little resemblance to the more ‘traditional’ cannabis that people are more familiar with. It creates serious mental health issues, compounded by drug intimidation where dealers harass the user into carrying drugs or dealing themselves.
“I want to develop a Drug Related Intimidation Strategy in West Dublin to support users and their families who are currently tortured by drug debt. I am also proposing a series of measures to ensure that drugs users, their families and those at risk of drug use get the support they need at a much earlier stage. “This includes strengthening the roles of the local Dublin Regional Drug and Alcohol Taskforce, ensuring that treatment and rehabilitation services have comprehensive aftercare structures given the extremely high level of relapse, establishing support programmes in our schools and establishing family support programmes for the children of drug users.”