Senator Lynn Ruane has questioned whether anyone in Government is “serious” about drug policy reform after the Government kicked a Citizens’ Assembly on the issue into the long grass.
Instead, two will be held on biodiversity and the future of local government in Dublin. For Senator Ruane, it is an indication that the Government has its policy priorities wrong:
“My public life and political life, my personal life, they all merge into one,” Senator Ruane, who grew up in Tallaght, told On The Record with Gavan Reilly.
“So I don’t get to leave the Oireachtas and go home to my community and separate or divorce myself from I suppose how difficult some issues are in relation to drug use.
“When I saw the Citizens’ Assembly being announced and the drugs issue not being given a date and then I saw there is to be a Citizens’ Assembly on the Lord Mayor being prioritised over that, it just made me feel like, ‘What are we doing?! Who is listening and does anybody actually care?’”
In 2020 Ireland had the third highest death toll from drugs in Europe - behind only Britain and Sweden - and the CityWide Drugs Crisis Campaign has also urged the Government last year to prioritise the issue.
“They’re saying that it [a Citizens' Assembly] will happen near the end of the year,” Senator Ruane continued.
“In their heads that’s just a scheduling issue but there’s thousands of people’s lives impacted every single day by drug use and it just felt like this should have been prioritised over the conversation around the election of a Lord Mayor.
“It’s not just about criminalisation, it’s also about access to services, diagnosis… There’s so many policy issues that need to be discussed and for me if a Government is serious about discussing them and acting on them, they’d want to be having a Citizens’ Assembly yesterday!”
Main image: A man demonstrates how to insert an injection into the forearm at the newly-opened parlour for drug addicts in Berlin. Picture by: PA.