December 1, 2021
Community and voluntary voice cannot be removed from National Drugs Strategy – Thomas Gould TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Addiction, Recovery and Wellbeing, Thomas Gould TD, has today called on the government to reverse a decision that would essentially remove national community and voluntary networks from oversight of the National Drugs Strategy.

Teachta Gould said:

“Across this state, there is huge work being done by the community addiction sector responding to emerging trends and supporting people to help them overcome addiction.

“This morning really shone a light on the fear that the voice of these community addiction services are being eroded by government.

“The Oireachtas Health Committee heard really insightful evidence from CityWide, the Tallaght Drug and Alcohol Taskforce and the Jobstown Assisting Drug Dependency service. What was clear is that these are the experts – they are people we should be learning from but instead they are fighting for funding to continue vital services.

“The ‘epidemic’ in crack cocaine use in communities like Tallaght shouldn’t come as a surprise. The services on the ground and the local Taskforce warned about this in 2018, they called for a response then. Instead of being proactive, the government waited and sat on the fence until we are now seeing a significant increase in those affected.

“A proactive approach could help those communities who are not yet in the throes of this crack cocaine epidemic but we also need to see a serious increase in funding for the community sector in those areas most effected.

“The government’s Budget this year allocated only €4.2m to the addiction sector. In comparison, a Sinn Fein government would tackle addiction and resource recovery with a comprehensive €47m package that would see €18m specifically spent funding the community addiction sector.

“Alongside this, we need to see an end to the worrying policy shift away from listening to independent collective community voices.

“CityWide have been involved in the addiction sector for over 25 years. They have supported communities, services and individuals across this state in reducing stigma and highlighting issues.

“We cannot have a situation whereby we continue forward without their voice holding the Department and the Government to account. There is no evidence base for this.

“Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens need to make clear that they stand on the side of the community sector.

“We are now facing situation that while communities are in crisis because of addiction, the community addiction sector is in crisis because of chronic underfunding and poor policy decisions.

“Tokenistic community involvement needs to end. We need to move to a community-based, proactive model that works to reduce harm and support recovery.”

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