I commend my colleague, Deputy Joan Collins, on her tremendous work in bringing forward this motion on the local drug and alcohol task forces. The motion strongly supports the work of the task forces, which are central to the implementation of the Government strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, of 2017. The motion calls on the Government to implement the commitment in the programme for Government to allocate an emerging needs fund; to commit to urgent implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018; to accelerate the work of the Garda asset profilers; to ensure a partnership approach to the new youth scheme; and to conclude the HSE review, among other measures. The Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin amendments are also very welcome.
Today, Deputy Broughan spoke on the motion on Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces (LDATFs) which was brought forward by his colleague, Deputy Joan Collins and which he co-signed. The motion calls for the implementation of the commitment in the Programme for Government to allocate an emerging needs fund; the commitment to urgently implement the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018; and the acceleration of the work of Garda Asset Profilers. Today’s motion also called on the Government to ensure a partnership approach to the new youth scheme and to conclude the HSE Review of Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces amongst some other measures.
Deputy Broughan has been raising Community Policing issues with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice and Equality since increasing instances of anti-social and criminal behaviour around parts of Dublin Bay North were brought to his attention last summer. Recently, Deputy Broughan received a reply to a Parliamentary Question he raised asking about the types, amounts and values of drugs being seized by Gardaí in the R District of Dublin Bay North each year since 2015.
Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I am grateful for the opportunity to make a brief contribution today on this important legislation, the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2016, which will amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 by adding new substances to the controlled list, make provision for a number of related matters such as the revocation of some statutory instruments, the transferring of functions on granting licences to the Health Products Regulatory Authority from the Minister for Health and adding the definitions of “registered nurse” and “registered midwife” to those allowed to administer medical prescriptions.
Today, in his speech in Dáil Éireann on the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2016, Deputy Broughan welcomed the small measures being taken by the Government in attempting to support An Garda Síochána in their fight against the current upsurge in gangland crime. However, he also strongly condemned the years of austerity cuts to the Gardaí’s resources, Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces and the lack of sufficient detox beds.
Deputy Broughan is concerned that the number of addiction counsellors, employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) Drug Treatment Service, nationwide has dropped from 139.2 in 2011 to 122.8 in 2015. Dublin Services have seen the largest decrease with the Community Health Organisations (CHOs) of Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow, Dun-Laoghaire & Bray, Arklow and Wicklow down from 32 to 24 and Dublin North-East down from 24 to 20. These 2 CHO areas alone make up for 10 of the overall 16.4 positions no longer available to people accessing addiction services.
Deputy Broughan today received a reply from the Health Service Executive to his earlier Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Health on the numbers of persons on methadone maintenance programmes in each of the Community Health Organisation Areas for the years 2013, 2014 and to date in 2015. He was shocked and concerned to see a rise in overall numbers from 9,655 at the end of December 2013 to 9,866 at the end of May 2015.