Seanad debates

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Commencement Matters

National Drugs Strategy

2:30 pm

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I very much appreciate the Senator's contribution to and participation in the public consultation process. As she is aware, I come from a community-oriented background and know and understand the difficulties and the work being done in communities. This morning I was in Tallaght visiting various groups and was taken aback by the work being done on the ground. If we intend to tackle the drugs problem, the work must begin in the community. It cannot be started in the Taoiseach's office or anywhere else. Actions can only take place if support comes from the top down, but the people who know what is best are working on the ground and living in the communities they represent. They deal on a daily basis with the individuals, including young people, who are being used for criminal activity. They also include older people who for whatever reason have been dragged into addiction problems and find themselves in their late 50s and 60s still very much engaged in substance abuse.

When I have the draft report on my desk, I intend to make sure I will be very happy with the content. All I can tell the Senator is that nothing has been ruled out. I give her a commitment that if I feel something is missing, I will make it very clear to the Department and the Minister for Health that without specific pillars being identified in the report, it will not work. We must bring communities with us as part of the national drugs strategy. They are the ones who on a daily basis try to involve others to have some normality in their lives. I again thank the Senator for raising this very important matter.


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