Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Drug and Alcohol Services, and Homelessness): Statements
Gary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
When we are given long presentations, such as those we have heard this morning, I am often fascinated by what is missed and what is not said. I am quite surprised that the Minister of State, Deputy Feighan, did not refer to drug-related debt or intimidation, which are endemic not just in my community in Dublin Central but in communities all over Dublin and - I imagine - all over Ireland. I ask the Minister of State to tell me if I missed such a reference in his presentation. Issues relating to drug-related debt cannot be separated from the experiences being catered for and trying to be managed by drug services and homeless services. I am very interested in why this was missed in the presentation and I will build my first question around it. We are coming up to the midterm review of the national drugs strategy. Will the midterm review factor in how endemic drug-related debt and intimidation are? Will the Minister of State provide these services? What models will they consist of? I would be shocked if drug-related debt and intimidation were not factored into the midterm review of the drugs and alcohol strategy.
My next question also pertains to the midterm review of the drug strategy and the health diversion programme. Will the health diversion programme, which I believe has inbuilt limitations, continue to criminalise people in their struggle with health and trauma-related illness if they have more than one conviction for possession of drugs? If that is the case, any conversation about empathy or understanding goes out the window if we continue to criminalise people who I do not believe are committing crimes.