Nine former drugs ministers have accused the Government of failing to honour its commitments under the National Drugs Strategy.
In a statement, all nine politicians who have had responsibility for the strategy since it was adopted in 1996 warned that it is now in danger of collapse.
The strategy is built upon working with local community groups to build drug services that are targeted at the particular needs of specific communities.
The statement warns that decisions are increasingly being made centrally by the Department of Health and HSE – with authority taken away from local organisations.
It also notes that communities are being left devastated because local services are so badly under-funded
National Drugs Strategy
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, former Drugs Minister Pat Rabbitte said the HSE is not following the path laid out in the National Drugs Strategy.
“The HSE is essentially implementing its own plan,” he said.
“It is supposed to be implementing the plan as designed at local level to meet the local needs in particular areas.
“It is not, I hasten to add, that the HSE is not doing some very good things – but it is breaking that partnership that was the very foundation of this strategy.”
Anna Quigley, coordinator of the CityWide Drugs Crisis Campaign said strategy contains “strong commitments” to community involvement in decision making – but the Government is failing to put it into action.
“Our community drug projects, who are delivering services on the ground in effect, have not had an increase in their core budgets in a number of years,” she said.
“They are still operating off budgets that are based off seven years of cuts.
“This is at a time when they are dealing with such a wide range of different types of drug use and the other issues that combine with drugs.”
Drugs Task Force
Former Minister of State Pat Carey said local Drugs Task Forces are being treated like they are “HSE-led projects.”
“Communities are being devastated by the impact of the drugs problem,” he said.
“Drug-related deaths in Ireland are at the highest level ever; new drugs appear regularly on the illicit market while familiar drugs such as cannabis are becoming more potent, and far too many people are living daily with the nightmare of drug-related intimidation and violence.
“The worst impact of drug-related harms continues to be in the most disadvantaged communities that have the least resources to respond.
“Now, more than ever, we need our National Drugs Strategy to work.”
The statement was signed by all of the former Minister of State for Drugs Strategy between 1996 and 2016. They include: Pat Rabbitte, Chris Flood, Eoin Ryan, Noel Ahern, Pat Carey, John Curran TD, Róisín Shortall TD, Alex White and Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
They urged the Government to “act as a matter of urgency” to restore confidence in the strategy.