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Lynn Ruane: The Community Must Be At The Centre of Drug Policy Reform

    • Senator looking forward to attending launch of National Drug Strategy consultation.
    • Encourages all stakeholders to contribute.
    • Reiterates strong support for continuing a community based approach to drug policy and for preserving the central role of the drugs tasks forces.

     

    Independent Senator Lynn Ruane attended the launch of the National Drugs Strategy consultation this morning and welcomes the opportunity to engage with the Department of Health on this crucial issue.  She looks forward to working with Minister of State Catherine Byrne T.D. and hopes that today can mark the beginning of a new era in how Ireland formulates drug policy.

     

    Speaking before the launch this morning, Lynn Ruane said,

     

    “The results of the National Drugs Strategy consultation will be critically important in providing a vision and overall direction in how we tackle the drugs crisis in the coming years. It is vital that the consultation process is thorough and is engaged with by the very communities that have borne the brunt of the pain and suffering of serious drug use and all of its devastating impact in recent decades.”

     

    “These same communities campaigned vigorously in the 1980s and 1990s, campaigning which led to the launch of the First Report of the Ministerial Taskforce on Measures to Reduce the Demand for Drugs in 1996, or the Rabbitte report as it became known. This report eventually became the basis for the establishment of the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces in those communities in which generations of young people and their families had felt the devastating effects of drug use,“ said Senator Ruane.

     

    “In my work as an addiction programme developer in west Dublin, I managed a project that operated within the remit of a local drugs task force. As someone with practical experience in this area, I strongly believe that we need to sustain and to support these programmes and strategies in the future. They are the vehicle that connects national drug policy with our local communities and I reject any criticism that they are not fit for purpose. I strongly believe that the drug task force model and how it can be improved must remain a part of the debate on drug policy going forward and any discussion of a shift to a different model is misguided,” said Ruane.

     

    “Moreover, this strategy provides the perfect opportunity for us to re-think how we consider the relationship between drug use and criminality. We are criminalising and imprisoning young people across this country at huge cost to the state without any thought given to alternative measures that could better focus on rehabilitation, addiction treatment and harm reduction within our communities. I hope that this strategy can allow us to listen to evidence based solutions and potentially build a consensus on how our drug laws are failing and the radical changes that are needed to fix them,” concluded Senator Ruane.