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June 29, 2004

Customs launch new surveillance vessel

(Source:'Cutter launch: custom-built craft to be used by Revenue' : Irish Times, p. 7, 29 Jun 2004)

The first purpose-built Revenue Customs cutter was officially named in Cork Harbour yesterday. The vessel, The RCC Surbheir, was an important strengthening of Revenue’s capacity to carry forward the fight against the importation of drugs, said Minister for Finance Mr McCreevy. Revenue Customs Section seized drugs worth €21 million and suspected drug-related cash of €500,000 in 2003. The 22.7m long cutter has a speed of 25 knots and can accommodate a crew of six – who will be unarmed. A Revenue spokesman said it was not envisaged that the RCC Surbheir would be used in confrontational situations; the crew could call on the Naval Service for assistance if needed

Homegrown marijuana can be extra potent

(Source:'Stronger drugs fears' : Irish Daily Star, p. 16, 29 Jun 2004)

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) said yesterday that homegrown marijuana in the EU can be up to three times more potent than that imported from North Africa, the Caribbean and the Far East. The potency is measured by the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis, which decomposes over time – making imported marijuana weaker than the homegrown variety. Marijuana consumed in EU nations contains an average of eight per cent THC, but in the Netherlands the THC content is double. Dutch officials say their policy of tolerance has not triggered higher drug use, but has raised concerns about health problems relating to high-potency cannabis

June 28, 2004

Employment can be a route out of drug use

(Source:'EU drug-abuse experts ponder 'routes out' ' : The Scotsman [Online] 28 Jun 2004)

Some130 delegates from eight European countries will today discuss ‘routes out’ of drug abuse, i.e., the best ways that recovering drug users can gain employment, at a conference in Glasgow. The event has been organised by Greater Glasgow Drug Action Team, the Scottish Drugs Forum and the pan-European drugs information network T3E. The conference aims to highlight the role of employment in the later stages of treatment of drug users and how it can help stem the rise of drugs problems. Dave Liddell, director of the Scottish Drugs Forum, said: “Despite being increasingly important in national drug strategies, employability is a subject rarely considered at international exchanges and this is an excellent way for policymakers to learn lessons from elsewhere so the people of Scotland can benefit." The Glasgow event follows a series of events organised by T3E across the European Union over the past ten years. At the Scottish conference, policymakers, practitioners and delegates who have had drugs problems hope to agree on a strategy that can be fed into drugs policies at both EU and individual-country level.

Illegal steroids make their way onto Irish market

(Source:'Concern as illegal steroids mailed in for sale in gyms' : Irish Independent, p. 7, 28 Jun 2004)

Since January 2004 Customs has seized €200,000 of steroids imported into Ireland. According to Revenue, these seizures are a relatively new departure and may indicate a much larger problem of illegal anabolic steroids being posted into the country for sale in gyms.

UK drug users commit crime to get into prison-based treatment

(Source:'Crime pays for drug users desperate for access to treatment ' : The Guardian Online, 28 Jun 2004)

Almost one-third of chronic drug users interviewed in areas of Britain where community drug treatment services were poor said they committed crimes to get themselves arrested and imprisoned simply to get access to treatment, according to research published today by the social care charity Turning Point. The study, Routes into Treatment: Drugs and Crime, says that the development of drug treatment and testing orders (DTTOs) has proved so effective in parts of the country as a fast track into treatment services for drug abusers convicted of crime that they are seen by desperate drug users as the only way to get treatment. It points out that, for the first time, the government is now spending more money on treatment ordered by the courts and the police than on treatment services in the community for all drug abusers. The report finds that DTTOs are effective at getting convicted offenders into treatment and can have significant benefits at reducing re-offending, with 38 per cent fewer being reconvicted compared with other offenders. The research is to be presented at a conference today to be addressed by the home secretary, David Blunkett

June 25, 2004

United Nations World Drug Report 2004

(Source:'United Nations World Drug Report 2004 presents an in-depth look into Global Trends' : UN Information Service, 25 Jun 2004)

Approximately three per cent of the world population (185 million people) have abused drugs during the previous 12 months, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). A small percentage of the world population abuses cocaine (13 million people) or opiates (15 million abusers of heroin, morphine and opium). By far the most widely abused substance is cannabis (used at least once a year by over 150 million people), followed by the amphetamine-type stimulants – ATS (38 million users, among them eight million users of ecstasy). These figures were presented today by UNODC in a two-volume World Drug Report. The first volume covers market trends and provides in-depth trend analyses while the second volume compiles detailed statistics on the worldwide drug market

June 22, 2004

Dail Debates. Written Answers. National Drug Strategy

Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the effect that the closure of the Bradan day programme, Navan, will have on the national drugs strategy.

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The provision of drug treatment services is the statutory responsibility of the health boards. I am informed by the North Eastern Health Board that the day programme is not closing.

The overall objective of the Government’s strategy on drug misuse is to significantly reduce the harm caused to individuals and society through a concerted focus on supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research. It wants to provide a range of options to encourage and enable drug misusers to avail of treatment with the aim of reducing dependency and improving overall health and social well-being. This is being achieved by addiction treatment service providers, statutory and non-statutory, working together in partnership.

Recently I approved national lottery funding of €50,000 for the Bradan day programme. The NEHB has advised me that it provided funding to Bradan House. The health board gave the day programme €27,000 in 2002 and €35,000 in 2003.

Since the middle of last year negotiations took place between the board and the Bradan day programme about developing a service level agreement for referral of drug free clients from the board’s addiction service to the day and aftercare programmes. An agreement was reached. As soon as it is signed by Bradan, the health board will fund clients referred by it on a per client basis. This is based on the premise that the services offered by the programme will enhance those of the board’s and not replicate what was already being provided. These new arrangements are likely to result in a greater number of clients being referred to the Bradan day programme.

Dail Debates. Written Answers. Substance Misuse

184. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will consider setting up and funding an independent and impartial support agency to educate and aid both the victims and the victims of victims suffering from alcohol’s negative side effects; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. T. O’Malley): I share the Deputy’s concern that alcohol abuse continues to be a significant problem for Irish society.

The health promotion unit of my Department is involved in a range of initiatives aimed at preventing and reducing alcohol related harm. One such initiative was the establishment of the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol in January 2002, to recommend evidence based measures to Government, aimed at reducing and preventing alcohol related harm. Following a comprehensive review of the most effective alcohol policy measures by international experts, an interim report was published in May 2002. A second report, containing further recommendations, will be published in the near future. An interdepartmental group has been established to co-ordinate responses to the recommendations.

The health promotion unit of my Department has also provided funding to the Irish College of General Practitioners to implement an alcohol aware practice project to assist the GP in being more effective in helping patients with alcohol problems.

National policy on the treatment of alcohol abuse, as set out in Planning for the Future, stipulates that the emphasis in the management of alcohol related problems should be on community-based interventions. Health boards already provide and continue to develop a range of comprehensive community-based support services appropriate to the needs of persons affected and afflicted by alcohol abuse. These services include family support and community, medical and social services in the management of the problem.

June 17, 2004

Dail Debates. Written Answers. Crime Prevention

142. Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will report on efforts to deal with crime in the Garda division covering Tallaght, Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): The Garda authorities have informed me that the Tallaght district comprises Tallaght and Rathfarham sub-districts. The detective unit is responsible for the investigation and detection of crimes in the district. In addition, the drugs unit is also responsible for the investigation of the supply of illicit drugs in the district. These resources are further supplemented by a divisional task force based in Crumlin.

In addition, the Garda authorities have informed me that a dedicated scenes of crime unit has been established in the division to aid criminal investigations and, when required, the above units receive assistance from the national units, such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the National Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the National Drugs Unit. A crime prevention officer is also based at Tallaght and is available to advise members of the community on crime prevention methods. I have been assured by the Garda authorities that, while the units I have referred to above are tasked with the investigation and detection of crime, the various regular units at Tallaght and Rathfarham also play a major role in the prevention and detection of crime.

I would also like to note the positive effects achieved through the three Garda youth diversion projects in the Tallaght Garda district. These include KEY, Key to Engaging Youth, Killinarden, Fettercairn and Glenshane, JAY, Jobstown Action for Youth and YEW, Youth Enhancement in Whitechurch. Garda youth diversion projects are a community based, multi-agency crime prevention initiative which seek to divert young persons from becoming involved, or further involved, in anti-social and-or criminal behaviour by providing suitable activities to facilitate personal development, promote civic responsibility and improve long-term employability prospects. By doing so, the projects also contribute to improving the quality of life within communities and enhancing Garda-community relations. A total of €296,420 was made available in 2003 to the three projects in the Tallaght district.

June 16, 2004

Dail Debates. Written Answers. National Security

117. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if sufficient back-up is available to ensure the adequacy of coastal defences, particularly in the context of drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings and terrorist attacks; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The primary responsibility for the prevention of drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings and terrorist attacks rests with the Garda and the Revenue Commissioners, who are also responsible for the detention of persons and/or the seizure of drugs or equipment at sea. The White Paper on Defence gives the Naval Service and the Air Corps a security role in assisting and supporting the civil authorities in this important work. The main day-to-day role of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State’s obligations as a member of the EU.

The Government has taken measures to improve drugs law enforcement, including the establishment in 1993 of a joint task force involving the Garda, the Customs and Excise and the Naval Service. Such measures have helped to maximise the effective use of the resources of the Naval Service in combating drug trafficking, etc. The Air Corps provides air support and sometimes carries the customs national drugs team in an observation capacity for the purpose of monitoring vessels suspected of drug trafficking or other such illegal activities. The civil authorities - the Garda and the customs service - engage in close co-operation with the Naval Service and the Air Corps in discharging this important mission. I am satisfied that the extent of Naval Service and Air Corps reconnaissance measures, in conjunction with the Garda and the Customs and Excise, has had a major and beneficial impact in deterring drug trafficking and other such illegal activities.


118. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if he has satisfied himself regarding the adequacy of resources to ensure the protection of sensitive installations, having particular regard to the possibility of a terrorist attack; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18114/04]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The Garda Síochána has primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State. This includes the protection of installations from terrorist attack. The question of the adequacy of resources in this regard is therefore a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, in the first instance. The Defence Forces will continue to render appropriate assistance in the provision of aid to the civil powers as may be appropriate in specific circumstances when requested by the Garda.

Dail Debates. Written Answers. Drug Testing Programme

86. Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Defence the number of Defence Forces personnel tested to date under the new drug testing programme; the number who tested positive; the action taken when a member tests positive; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): Drug abuse has long been recognised as a serious and escalating problem in our society, and while there have been relatively few instances of drug-related problems in the Defence Forces, it is recognised that the Defence Forces, as a component of the wider community, mirror the community at large. The implications of drug abuse in an organisation where personnel have access to fire arms are too obvious to require elaboration.

A compulsory substance-testing programme was introduced on 1 February 2002 as part of a Defence Forces substance abuse programme, following a long consultative process involving the Office of the Attorney General, the Deputy Judge Advocate General and the Defence Forces’ representative associations.

Before the launch of the programme, an education programme and awareness briefings were conducted throughout the Defence Forces. All personnel were issued with a booklet devised to inform them of the purpose of the new compulsory random drug-testing programme, the administrative procedures involved and the sanctions against those who test positive. All necessary measures, including pre-enlistment screening, education, compulsory random drug testing, monitoring and sanctions, will be taken to maintain a drug-free environment in the Defence Forces.

The primary objective of compulsory random drug-testing is deterrence. To provide a credible level of deterrent, the testing programme has been devised to maximise the possibility of random selection for testing. A trained drug-testing team is responsible for taking urine samples for compulsory random testing throughout the Defence Forces. Testing commenced on 14 November 2002, and the programme is now in its second year of operation. The target of testing 10% of the Permanent Defence Force has been achieved. A member of the Permanent Defence Force, randomly selected, may be required, at any time, to provide a urine sample which will be tested for evidence of use of controlled drugs, or the abuse or misuse of other substances, or for the detection of the metabolites thereof. A member of the PDF who refuses to provide a urine sample, or who provides a urine sample which tests positive, shall be liable to retirement, discharge or relinquishment of commission or withdrawal of cadetship as appropriate under the provisions of Defence Force regulations.

I have been advised by the military authorities that a total of 1,694 of all ranks have been tested to date. There have been five positive tests. Where personnel have confirmed positive test results, they are discharged or retired in accordance with the relevant regulations.

Dail Debates. Garda Síochána Report: Motion (Resumed)

Mr. O’Donovan: I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this motion. It is important to note the Government’s commitment to the Garda in terms of numbers, financial resources, training and the provision of equipment in recent years. Since 1997 there has been a 75% increase on the then €600 million available to the Minister in that budget to over €1 billion. It would be remiss of me not to mention the significant progress made by the Garda in combating organised crime, particularly drug barons, the importation of drugs and dealing in drugs. During the past 24 to 48 hours the Garda was successful in making a number of arrests and seizing almost €3 million worth of illegal drugs which affected people from the Cork and Dublin networks in the procurement of drugs. I laud in the highest possible terms the Garda on its tremendous success in this area.

Last week, in my constituency, significant interceptions of illicit drugs, whether E tablets cocaine, marijuana or other prohibited substances have been made. We always hear about the cases where this or that failed, but the Garda, through its training and discipline, has made inroads into the area of drugs and drug trafficking during the past decade. This is attributed to Government policy, continued financial support, training and international co-operation between the Garda forces and so on.

Ten or 15 years ago, the island of Ireland was the gateway for some of the major drug trafficking from Colombia and north Africa. Bales of drugs dropped off at sea came into inlets in west Cork and the west of Ireland. Most of these drugs were not for use in the Irish market but in Great Britain or continental Europe. The efforts of the Government and the Garda Síochána in this area have been tremendous. This type of policing is never-ending. Unfortunately today, not only in Ireland but throughout Europe and the developed world, drugs is one of the blights on society. Even though the Garda has done tremendous work in this area, particularly during the past five or six years, its efforts must continue.

I laud the Minister on the increasing number of Garda on our streets and in towns throughout the country and his commitment to providing a force of 14,000. I compliment him on the advances made in Garda technology and in providing state-of-the-art Garda stations and equipment throughout the country. I acknowledge all the criminal legislation initiated not only by the Minister but by the previous Government.

Having commenced my contribution with a reference to the whole area of drugs, I am concerned that legislation introduced by the previous Government specified clearly and unequivocally that anybody dealing in drugs and the supply of drugs to a value of €10,000 or more should get a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years. I was a Member of the other House when that legislation was going through. I regret that measure has not been implemented across the board. Without breaking the separation of powers, I suggest the Judiciary revisit that issue. If a mandatory sentence is imposed, whether for drink driving, where one is put off the road for two years, or having no insurance, and one gets months, I cannot understand why the other arm of the State has constantly ignored it with regard to drug trafficking and drug dealing. It is a shameful exercise given that one of the greatest problems in society is drugs. That point should be noted.

Another problem in all our towns and villages is street disorder and drunkenness. We must acknowledge we live in an affluent society. A study of Greek history, pre-Roman, the Stoics and the sophists will show that the Stoics was a wealthy society which said, “Eat well, be rich and be merry and enjoy life”. We have something similar today. Young people have money and there is much disorder in society. The Minister cannot be blamed if some people, not necessarily young people, have too many drinks in a pub or disco and a brawl develops. Street disorder is a problem, and I am pleased to note the Minister has committed greater resources to deal with that difficulty.

I acknowledge the tremendous work being done by the Garda Síochána and particularly its courage in the past 24 hours in the chase, and constant surveillance in recent weeks, of people involved in drugs importation and distribution. I wish the three gardaí who were injured in this escapade a speedy recovery. The bravery and courage of the gardaí n the course of duty must be acknowledged unanimously by every Member.

One would like to envisage a society with no crime and no problems, as envisaged by some of the architects of the Russian socialist regime which had the thesis, synthesis and antithesis, meaning that there would be no crime in society, there would be no need for laws or police officers and we would all be happy, but unfortunately that regime broke down. Some Members would have us believe the process envisaged by Lenin, Trotsky and others during the Russian revolution could be achieved here, but it will never be achieved.

The previous Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform had a view of zero tolerance, but we must realise there will always be crime, vandalism and theft, as human nature will never change. One must on an ongoing basis review procedures, resources and so on. In spite of all the criticisms, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has a clear commitment to improving the powers of the Garda Síochána through legislation, providing additional financial resources and a better working environmentand improving their training and providing them with state-of-the-art facilities. It would be more effective to establish an agency to monitor and process traffic control measures, such as speed cameras and so on. It is wrong to have the Garda Síochána doing secretarial work, because the gardaí should be on the streets.

I support the amendment. As agreed, I will hand over to my good friend from Tallaght, Deputy O’Connor, with whom I am sharing time.

This debate continues on the Oireactas website.

June 15, 2004

Drugnet Europe 46

Drugnet Europe 46 Full Text

June 10, 2004

Cannabis-based medicine may help arthritis patients

(Source:'GW cannabis drug hope for arthritis' : Financial Times, p. 25, 10 Jun 2004)

The makers of the cannabis-based medicine, Sativex, claim that the product has shown positive results in a phase II clinical trial involving 58 rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. GW Pharmaceuticals is already seeking regulatory approval for Sativex as a prescription treatment for multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain. The company will now move into late-stage trials of the drug – administered in an oral spray – for arthritis treatment.

Seat on LA Neighborhood Council for 'skid row' resident

(Source:'Five homeless men compete in election to win a seat on skid row' : Irish Independent, p. 35, 10 Jun 2004)

Five homeless men from the Los Angeles ‘Skid Row’ area are competing for election to a seat on the downtown Neighborhood Council, the US’s only known elected position for people living on the streets or in temporary shelters and flophouses. There are tens of thousands of inhabitants in the area covering 40 square city blocks known as Skid Row; many are either drug addicts or mentally ill.

Record seizure of amphetamines in Fiji

(Source:'£307m worth of amphetamines seized in record Fiji drug bust' : The Guardian Online, 10 Jun 2004)

Police yesterday raided what is believed to be the biggest methamphetamine laboratory in the southern hemisphere, on an industrial estate near Suva, the capital of Fiji. Hidden in a warehouse they found five kilos of methamphetamine, along with a tonne of precursor chemicals, with an estimated street value of £307m. The discovery of such a big drug operation in a quiet corner of the Pacific has shocked officials, despite recent warnings that the area’s microstates could provide a haven for transnational crime. A Fiji police spokesman said the operation appeared to have been financed from Hong Kong and that the warehouse was leased to an Asian expatriate. Three Fijians and four Chinese nationals were arrested

June 04, 2004

Integrated Care Pathways Guide 5: Community Detoxification

Source: Effective Interventions Unit, Scottish Executive
This, the fifth ICP Guide, offers an outline pathway, providing information to inform consistent evidence-based practice in the planning and delivery of community-based drug detoxification. The Guide may be accessed on the Scottish Executive website.

Women and Alcohol – Factsheet 2

Source: Alcohol Concern, UK
This fact sheet examines how much women are drinking, recent trends in women’s drinking and focuses on the key issues relating to women’s drinking In the last 20-30 years the issue of women’s alcohol consumption has become a concern for both researchers and practitioners in the alcohol field. This interest reflects the changing social and economic roles of women and related patterns of consumption. The fact sheet may be accessed on the Alcohol Concern website.

June 03, 2004

Dail Debates. Written Answers. Community Develoment

63. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which he proposes to assist community groups in high population urban settings; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Mr. N. Ahern):
I propose to take Question Nos. 63 and 200 together.

My Department provides assistance of the nature referred to by the Deputy under a number of programme headings. My Department provides local self-help and community development initiatives targeted at disadvantaged communities in both rural and urban areas nationwide, in recognition of the role that voluntary groups have in facilitating local communities to address the problems facing them. On an ongoing basis, my Department supports some 170 locally-based projects nationwide which are involved in anti-poverty and social exclusion. This support is provided by way of core funding through the community development programme. Some €20.6 million will be spent on the programme in 2004. A further 15 project start-ups are scheduled for 2004. These will be located in specifically targeted disadvantaged areas. In addition, funding is provided to six regional support agencies whose role is the provision of advice and guidance to projects on matters of best practice in relation to employment guidelines, company law, etc.

My Department also provides once-off funding by way of a programme of grants to voluntary and community groups that focus on tackling poverty and disadvantage and enhancing community development in both rural and urban areas. Under this scheme, funding is provided for training, education or research initiatives and for refurbishment of premises or the purchase of equipment. The proposed allocation in 2004 is €2.7 million.

There is provision of €42.144 million in my Department’s vote this year for the local development social inclusion programme, LDSIP, which aims to promote equality and social inclusion. Funding is allocated to 73 groups including partnerships, community groups and territorial employment pacts to deliver the programme under three measures. These are in the areas of services for the unemployed, community-based youth initiatives and community development. Many of the groups in receipt of funding support urban communities. The RAPID programme aims to ensure that priority attention is given to tackling the spatial concentration of poverty and social exclusion within the 45 designated RAPID areas through targeting State resources available under the national development plan. The programme supports communities in 25 urban areas and 20 provincial towns around the country. Area Development Management Limited provides ongoing support to groups funded under LDSIP and RAPID area implementation teams.

Substantial support and funding is also provided by my Department to local drugs task forces which compromise community groups and other interests in urban areas. Overall €26.75 million is being provided in my Department’s 2004 Estimate to support drugs programmes.

Dail Debates. EU Drug Strategy

159. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the names, titles and countries of the delegates who participated in the meeting, EU Strategy on Drugs - The Way Forward, in Dublin in May 2004.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): The conference, EU Strategy on Drugs - The Way Forward, was held in the Conrad Dublin hotel on 10-11 May 2004. The Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union worked closely with our partners, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom to develop the conference, which was co-funded by the European Commission. The 25 member states of the European Union, the candidate countries, relevant European institutions and bodies, and representatives of civil society were all in attendance at the conference. I do not consider it appropriate to put personal information relating to the delegates into the public domain.

Dail Debates. Written Answers. Drug Treatment Services

158. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the names, titles and organisational affiliations of the persons consulted in the preparation of the new prison drugs strategy.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): In early 2000, a national steering group on prison-based drug treatment services was established by the director general of the Irish Prison Service at the request of the then Minister. Its brief was to progress the issue of drug treatment and associated services within the prison system, particularly in the Dublin area. The group includes representatives of the Eastern Regional Health Authority.

The national steering group produced a report on prison-based drug treatment services in July 2000. It consulted widely with external groups prior to the drafting of this report. A public advertisement inviting submissions from interested parties was placed in the national newspapers on 27 January 2000. A total of 22 submissions were received from various parties including healthcare professionals, community and voluntary groups as well as from individual members of the public, as follows:

Submissions

Mr. Michael Ruane

Mr. Con Doherty

Dr. N. B. Daly

North Inner City Drugs Task Force (1)

Outreach Service-Aids-Drugs Service, Eastern Health Board

Star Project

Visiting Committee, Training Unit

Carlow-Kilkenny Probation and Welfare Service

Ms Margaret Phelan

Prisons Psychology Service

Steering Committee of the Community and Prison Link Service in Ballyfermot

Prison Survey Team, Trinity College

Merchant’s Quay Project

Irish Penal Reform Trust

Dr. Patrick Troy, Portlaoise Prison

Ms Valladares Goldberg

Ballymun Youth Action Project

Prison Officer DJ Fahey

The Irish National Council of Attention Deficit Disorder Support Groups

NICDTF

Crosscare Drugs Awareness Programme, Clonliffe College

Sr. Ní Uallacháin, Matt Talbot Community Trust

The national steering group considered all of these submissions in finalising its July 2000 report.

In October 2002, the national steering group established a national policy subgroup, which was mandated with the production of a drugs policy for the Irish Prison Service. The subgroup consisted of Irish Prison Service management, prison governors and health board staff, together with relevant clinicians. The subgroup adopted a multidisciplinary approach to drafting the policy document and incorporated recommendations from various working groups established within the Irish Prison Service over the previous number of years, including the prison and community drugs liaison group, which was established in 2001 and provides a mechanism for a regular exchange of views between prison management and the community and voluntary sector.

I have met prison governors to discuss the operational implications of the policy, which will among other things, reflect the clear objectives in this area of An Agreed Programme for Government. I am currently finalising the drugs policy against the background of the extensive process of consultation and discussion.

Dail Debates. Written Answers. National Drug Strategy

65. Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the outcome of his recent meetings with the local drug task forces; if the representatives he met have satisfied themselves with the progress of the national drugs strategy; the measures the local drug task forces wish to see him take to tackle drugs in the community; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. N. Ahern): In the course of my work as Minister of State with responsibility for the national drugs strategy, I meet members of the local drugs task forces, LDTFs, on a regular and on-going basis. In recent months I have visited a number of LDTF projects in Dublin and discussed with the different representatives the issues they face on the ground and how their projects are dealing with the drug problem in their areas.

Since 1997, my Department has provided over €150 million to support the work of the LDTFs, the young people’s facilities and services fund and the premises initiative. The Deputy should note that as part of the mid-term review of the national drugs strategy which recently got underway, a extensive consultation process is also planned. As part of that process I will be consulting with the LDTFs for their views on the strategy to be taken.

Dail Debates. Written Answers. National Drug Strategy

65. Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the outcome of his recent meetings with the local drug task forces; if the representatives he met have satisfied themselves with the progress of the national drugs strategy; the measures the local drug task forces wish to see him take to tackle drugs in the community; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. N. Ahern): In the course of my work as Minister of State with responsibility for the national drugs strategy, I meet members of the local drugs task forces, LDTFs, on a regular and on-going basis. In recent months I have visited a number of LDTF projects in Dublin and discussed with the different representatives the issues they face on the ground and how their projects are dealing with the drug problem in their areas.

Since 1997, my Department has provided over €150 million to support the work of the LDTFs, the young people’s facilities and services fund and the premises initiative. The Deputy should note that as part of the mid-term review of the national drugs strategy which recently got underway, a extensive consultation process is also planned. As part of that process I will be consulting with the LDTFs for their views on the strategy to be taken.

Dail Debates. Written Answers. National Drug Strategy

78. Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the specific proposals that are advocated by the national drugs strategy team to combat cocaine abuse in the community; and if such interventions will be implemented and funded by his Department as a matter of urgency.

Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Mr. N. Ahern): I am not aware of any specific proposals being advocated by the national drugs strategy team to combat cocaine misuse in communities. The Deputy may wish to note that the team only recently established a sub-group to consider how best the issue of cocaine misuse should be addressed. The sub-group, which comprises members of the statutory, community and voluntary sectors, held its first meeting recently and are examining a number of options. I understand the sub-group hopes to be in a position to make recommendations to the team by late July, after which they will be submitted to my Department for consideration.

Dail Debates. Written Answers. National Drug Strategy

18. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the percentage of funding available to his Department which he has allocated to communities or groups combating drug problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

51. Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reason the Bray local drug task force area is the only area not currently implementing their second round of action plans; when he expects that Bray will progress to second round funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16657/04]

71. Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the last round of funding to resource the drugs task force programme was allocated in 2002; and if he will assign additional funding for the project as a matter of urgency. [16780/04]

Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Mr. N. Ahern): I propose to take Questions Nos. 18, 51 and 71 together. As the Deputies are aware, my Department has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008 which contains 100 individual actions to be implemented by a range of Departments and agencies.

My Department also has responsibility for the work of the 14 local drugs task forces, or LDTFs, which operate in the areas experiencing the highest levels of drug misuse. Substantial funding has been allocated to these areas over the past number of years and in total, the Government has allocated or spent. Approximately €65 million has been allocated to implement in the region of 500 projects contained in the task force plans since 1997; over €12.7 million to support nearly 60 projects under the premises initiative, which is designed to meet the accommodation needs of community based drugs projects; and over €72 million under the young peoples facilities and services fund, or YPFSF, to support in the region of 450 facility and services projects. An amount of €26.8 million - 9.6% of overall Vote of my Department - has been provided for drugs programmes in 2004. The bulk of this funding will be used to support the work of the LDTFs and the YPFSF.

The Bray LDTF was not established until 2000 whereas all of the other LDTFs were set up in 1997. Proposals submitted by the task force as part of their first action plan were approved by the Cabinet committee for social inclusion in early 2002 and are being implemented at present. A number of the projects are still at an early stage of development and no proposals have been received to date from the task force in respect of a second plan.

All of the other task forces are currently implementing their second round of plans. A number of these are also at an early stage of development and the aim would be consolidate and evaluate the work being done through these projects before seeking any additional proposals in respect of a further round of plans.


Question No. 19 answered with Question No. 14.

Question No. 20 answered with Question Nos. 12.

Dail Debates. Written Answers. Drugs Task Forces

14. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will advise the various health boards throughout the country that part of the funding administered through them was specifically allocated to drive the drugs task force programme; and if he will recommend the health boards to identify and employ appropriately skilled staff to drive the programme.

19. Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the make up of the drugs task forces throughout the country. [16777/04]

75. Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount which has been allocated to the health boards to specifically fund the drugs task force programme; the way in which the money was spent; and when the money will be allocated in regional areas in which this funding has not yet come on board; and the way in which it will be used. [16781/04]

76. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when funding will come on board to resource the various regional drugs task force projects at regional level. [16778/04]

Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Mr. N. Ahern): I propose to take Questions Nos. 14, 19, 75 and 76 together.

Under the national drugs strategy, ten regional drugs task forces, RDTFs, have been established throughout the country. The RDTFs represent a team-based response to illicit drug use with each task force being chaired by an independent chairperson and made up of representatives from state agencies working in the region, the community and voluntary sectors and elected public representatives. All of the RDTFs work in partnership in a manner similar to the local drugs task forces.

Currently, the RDTFs are mapping out the patterns of drug misuse in their areas - as well as the range and level of existing services - with a view to better co-ordination and addressing gaps in the overall provision. In this context, the Deputy should note that a sum of €500,000 has been provided by my Department, in the current year, for administrative and technical costs incurred by the RDTFs in the preparation of their plans. In addition, I understand that an amount of €50,000 has been allocated to each RDTF by the appropriate health board, to assist with ongoing administrative and staffing costs in the current year.

The work currently underway by the RDTFs is likely to take up most of the current year and will then feed into the drafting of regional action plans, which will be assessed by the National Drugs Strategy team in due course. I am hopeful that all of this work can be completed by early 2005 and that I will then be in a position to bring recommendations in relation to the funding of the plans to the Cabinet committee on social inclusion. I would expect the RDTFs to be in a position to begin the implementation of their plans by mid 2005.

June 02, 2004

Seven out of ten drug tests on drivers are positive

(Source:'Drugs new demon on the roads, survey finds' : Irish Independent, p. 2, 02 Jun 2004)

An extensive survey of 2,000 motorists by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety has found that seven out of 10 (68%) of drivers tested by gardai had no evidence of alcohol in their systems but tested positive for one or more drugs. One-quarter of all male drivers under 25 years of age tested positive for drugs, particularly cannabis and cocaine. Drivers are rarely prosecuted for drug-driving offences; a review of legislation is expected to change this situation by allowing prosecutions to be routinely brought in such cases.

Call for criminal assets to benefit those harmed by drug dealing

(Source:'‘Proceeds of crime should go to victims’ ' : Irish Examiner, p. 13, 02 Jun 2004)

Anti-drugs campaigners maintain that the proceeds of drug dealers’ assets confiscated by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) should be put back into the communities most affected by drugs. At present, assets must be frozen for seven years before they can be handed over to the State. The assets of 10 major criminals, including John Gilligan and members of his gang, amounting to some €4 million, are due to be transferred to the State this year. Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) director Tony Geoghegan said: ‘When the drugs task forces were set up, they said the money from CAB would go back to the communities.’ A Dublin Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign spokesman called for resources to be made available to CAB to allow it to target middle-ranking drug dealers. A Department of Finance spokesperson said there were no plans to ring-fence money from the proceeds of crime.

Psychiatrists warn against any move to declassify cannabis

(Source:'Doctors warn: don’t declassify cannabis' : Irish Examiner, p. 7, 02 Jun 2004)

The Irish Psychiatric Association (IPA) has presented a paper to the Department of Health warning against any move to declassify cannabis, citing research showing a link between the drug and the onset of mental health problems. The research was carried out by Dr Mary Cannon of the Royal College of Surgeons and found evidence that cannabis use in the early teenage years can lead to the development of schizophrenia in those who would not otherwise be at risk of the illness. Dr Cannon co-authored a study in New Zealand which found that 10 per cent of regular cannabis users under 18 years of age went on to develop a form of schizophrenia by their mid-twenties. The IPA paper is under review by the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Tim O’Malley.

June 01, 2004

SIPTU critical of drug-testing legislation

(Source:'Drug testing legislation dangerous, says SIPTU' : Irish Examiner, p. 6, 01 Jun 2004)

Provisions in the new Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill that will allow employers to test workers for drink and drugs have been described as ‘dangerous’ by the trade union SIPTU. The union claims the legislation is open to abuse and could lead to victimisation and that the drug testing provisions could lead to the neglect of more fundamental health and safety practice. The union’s health and safety officer, Sylvester Cronin, said the legislation will raise questions as to the actions open to an employer if a drug test is positive. SIPTU welcomed the main provisions relating to other aspects of health and safety at work.

Government has failed to deliver on drug prevention

(Source:'Bertie’s broken promises' : Ireland on Sunday, p. 10, 01 Jun 2004)

The Taoiseach claimed last week that his government had not broken any of its general election pledges. However, one of ten promises on which the government has failed to deliver relates to the drugs problem. The government promised: ‘We will ensure that regional drugs task forces operate efficiently to ensure that prevention programmes are active in all areas of the country’ (Programme for Government 2002). Since this pledge was made, Drugs Task Force funding has been cut. There are an estimated 14,450 heroin users in the State, with 12,456 in the Dublin area; only half of the approximately 15,000 in Dublin who are addicted to hard drugs are receiving treatment.

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