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 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2019: Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Ábhair Shaincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Matters
 Header Item Local Drug and Alcohol Task Forces: Motion [Private Members]

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 6

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Estimates for Public Services 2019: Message from Select Committee

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimate for public services for the service of the year ending 31 December 2019: Vote 13 - Office of Public Works.

Ábhair Shaincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Matters

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 29A and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Bernard Durkan - to discuss the upgrading of the M4 and the respective interchanges at Maynooth and Celbridge; (2) Deputy Noel Rock - to discuss proposals for legislation in relation to regulations regarding electric scooters; (3) Deputy Catherine Martin - to discuss providing assistance to owners affected by building defects and their access to the Home Building Finance Ireland fund; (4) Deputy Fergus O'Dowd - to discuss the home care package offered to a constituent who has been assessed by the HSE as requiring 56 home care hours per week; (5) Deputy Niamh Smyth - to discuss provision of a women's refuge facility in the constituency of Cavan-Monaghan; (6) Deputy Kathleen Funchion - to discuss the urgent need for clarification on the legal standing of circulars distributed to staff in the education sector by the Department of Education and Skills and whether these circulars form part of the terms and conditions of staff; (7) Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh - the need to adequately fund Donore community drug team's Targeting Resources at Youth programme; (8) Deputies Lisa Chambers, Dara Calleary, Bobby Aylward, John Curran and John McGuinness - to debate the need for Government to provide Spinraza for spinal muscular atrophy, SMA, sufferers in Ireland, the need to approve Spinraza for approval on the drugs reimbursement scheme, the failure to make the drug Spinraza available for children suffering from spinal muscular atrophy, and the need for the Minister for Health to outline what course of action he will take in relation to the provision of Spinraza for children with spinal muscular atrophy; (9) Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice - the delays experienced by older people throughout the country in getting their incontinence wear from the HSE; (10) Deputies Fiona O'Loughlin, Barry Cowen and Sean Fleming - the current status of the new school building for St Paul's secondary school, Monasterevin; (11) Deputy Frank O'Rourke - to discuss the need for public transport improvements in north Kildare, specifically BusConnects for the Celbridge area; (12) Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív - the need for a new school building to be provided urgently for Scoil Chaitríona senior and junior school in Renmore, Galway; (13) Deputy Mattie McGrath - the proposed transfer of Thurles post office; (14) Deputy Thomas Byrne - the need for increased primary school provision in Ashbourne; (15) Deputy Jim O'Callaghan - the need to provide support to all victims of terrorism and related violence based in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland; (16) Deputy Brian Stanley - to discuss with the Minister for Education and Skills what plans his Department has put in place for a new for site and premises for Coláiste Dhún Másc, Phortlaoise; (17) Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace - to discuss the ongoing situation in Venezuela and the need for the Irish Government and the EU to work for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela; and (18) Deputy Peadar Tóibín - to discuss the impact of the insurance industry on Irish business.

The matters raised by Deputies Bernard Durkan, Noel Rock, Catherine Martin and Thomas Byrne have been selected for discussion.

Local Drug and Alcohol Task Forces: Motion [Private Members]

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins I move:

"That Dáil Éireann:

notes that:
— global opium production jumped by 65 per cent from 2016 to 2017, the highest ever recorded by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and global cocaine manufacture rose by 56 per cent between 2013 and 2016, reaching its highest level ever in 2016;

— illicit drugs like opium and cocaine are booming and new drugs like fentanyl are emerging as a major drug problem;

— the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s Early Warning System for new drugs monitored 670 new psychoactive substances by the end of 2017, up from 300 in 2013;

— cannabis remains the world’s most commonly used drug, with 192 million people using it in 2018;

— in the European Union (EU), over 92 million people have used illicit drugs; and

— drug markets continue to be the most significant illegal market in the EU, with over 33 per cent of organised criminal groups involved in the production, trafficking and supply of illicit drugs;
further notes that:
— over 26 per cent (more than one in four) of the Irish population have used illicit drugs, with cannabis the most widely used;

— our communities are now coping with an increasingly complex and chaotic drug problem that includes prescription drugs, illegal drugs, new psychoactive substances, high-strength cannabis, crack cocaine, crystal meth and ketamine, and widespread availability and misuse of alcohol continues to be a core part of the polydrug problem;

— 695 people died from drug-related causes in 2015, and there has been a 61 per cent increase in drug-related deaths between 2004 and 2015 and drug-related deaths are 3.5 times higher than road deaths; and

— insidious, ongoing day-to-day related intimidation is being experienced in our communities, and in 2015 less than ten per cent of people experiencing intimidation reported it to An Garda Síochána for fear of reprisal;
calls on the Taoiseach’s department to appoint a senior official to the National Drugs Strategy’s (NDS) national structures to ensure direct accountability of all agencies at national, regional and local level for their active participation in implementing the new NDS; and

calls on the Government to:
— implement its own Programme for Government commitment through the immediate allocation of an emerging needs fund to the task forces to support community drug projects in the delivery of services that can respond to current and emerging service gaps in communities;

— commit to a clear timetable for prompt implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 without further delay;

— accelerate the work of the Garda asset profilers targeting people making significant sums of money from the drug trade living in our communities;

— ensure that the new scheme proposed in the NDS for young people is developed through a partnership approach involving youth services, schools, and community drug projects;

— conclude the work of the working group on alternative approaches to criminalisation and end the criminalisation for personal use;

— strengthen the community voice across all levels of the NDS and make immediate investment in community leadership and participation programmes;

— acknowledge the relationship between addiction and mental health and commit to greater co-operation between the relevant agencies, as considered in ‘A Vision for Change’ and the NDS; and

— cease the Health Service Executive reviews of drug and alcohol task forces, with immediate effect, as these reviews are being carried out without any discussion or consultation with the national NDS committees that are responsible for supporting and monitoring the task forces, and it is incompatible with the interagency partnership approach that underlies the NDS for one agency to carry out a review and present it as a fait accompli."

I wish to share time with Deputies Mick Wallace and Clare Daly.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins I present this motion to provide the House with the opportunity to engage in an urgent and focused debate on the implementation by drug and alcohol task forces of the national drugs strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, which was launched in July 2017. The national drugs strategy has enjoyed cross-party support over the years with Ministers in successive Governments committed to maintaining the interagency partnership approach to tackling the drugs crisis in Ireland, in particular in the cities. Is this Government going to be the first to buck that support? The strategy is two years into its three-year priority action plan and CityWide is more than concerned that the action plan will not be realised. CityWide emailed out a briefing document a couple of weeks ago, which this Private Members' motion reflects. These are the very people who were ignored in the 1990s. Politicians recognised then that they had to be brought to the table in respect of task forces and the innovative model which was then established to reflect community views and link with agencies.

The points of concern and the proposals set out in the motion are about ensuring the national drugs strategy action plan is a success. The motion sets out first the international background. Opium production increased by 65% between 2016 and 2017, which is the highest level ever recorded. Cocaine manufacturing increased by 56% between 2013 and 2016 and was at its highest level ever in the latter year. Europe's early warning system monitored 670 new psychoactive substances by the end of 2017, up from 300 in 2013. Cannabis, the most commonly used drug, was used by 192 million people globally last year. EU data show a significant increase in the potency of cannabis resin from 8.14% THC in 2006 to 17.2% in 2016. Drug markets continue to be the most important illegal markets in the EU with over 30% of organised criminal groups participating in the production, trafficking and supply of illicit drugs. There were 695 drug-related deaths in Ireland in 2015. Significantly, drug-related deaths occur at a rate three and a half times higher than the rate at which deaths occur on our roads.

There are 50 actions in the action plan for 2017 to 2020. These actions are designed to co-ordinate and implement the national drugs strategy at local and regional level. The key role of task forces is to provide a local response to local needs and the interagency partnership approach continues to be the cornerstone of the process. Community participation in decision-making to shape responses is also a key focus of task forces.

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