Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Drug and Alcohol Services, and Homelessness): Statements
Alan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
I will repeat a theme that began at the start of this discussion. During the pandemic, there has been a reduction in the availability of services. The Ministers of State are acutely aware of that. What level of additional funding or support will be put in place presently and as we head further into 2021? It is imperative that we recognise the general depression in society owing to the closure of schools and the lockdowns, which have had a wearying effect on us all after nearly 11 months. Unfortunately, this has consequences. Some individuals have taken to substance abuse. It must be recognised that we need to put in place the necessary funding and services to ensure they are supported.
My constituency has a young population in Swords, Balbriggan and emerging communities like Rush, Lusk and Donabate, all of which have more than 10,000 people. Fingal has the youngest and most diverse community in Ireland. The combination of the closure of schools and lockdowns has had unfortunate consequences. Foróige has a drug education service programme. We need to consider such alternative service providers for additional funding. I appreciate that this suggestion will cover many Departments, not just the Department of Health. What measures will be taken to support urban centres and, in particular, emerging communities like Balbriggan and Swords? What plans are being developed by the Department of Health to ensure the continuity of addiction services that have been provided throughout this extended period? Given its prevalence globally in recent years, the issue of opioid substance abuse is topical. The State offers treatment programmes. Perhaps the Minister of State, Deputy Feighan, will comment on them.