Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Health
431. To ask the Minister for Health the status of the publication of the report by the implementation, monitoring and evaluation group established to examine the need for legislative change, the operational details and the phasing of the implementation in relation to a health diversion approach to personal drug possession. [29597/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 431 and 432 together.
The Programme for Government commits to implementing the Health Diversion Programme as an important step in developing a public health-led approach to drug use. A review of the Programme will be undertaken following the first full year of the programme’s implementation, to ensure that it is meeting all of its aims.
An implementation, monitoring and evaluation group was established to implement the Health Diversion Programme in October 2019. The group is chaired by the Department of Health and membership includes, the Department of Justice and Equality, An Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive. They are tasked to examine issues including; the need for legislative change, the phasing of the implementation, and to look in more detail at the costs involved.
At the start of 2020, the group devised a detailed project plan setting out the actions required to introduce phased implementation in Q3 2020. Due to Covid-19, all activities required to progress the implementation of the Health Diversion Programme were postponed from March to May.
Following consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, the group is currently examining proposals to commence implementation of the Health Diversion Programme on an administrative basis in a number of locations.
I am committed to a health-led approach for possession of drugs for personal use. It is important that we treat drug use as a health issue and give people who use drugs the opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction. I look forward to the commencement of the health diversion programme in 2021.