Sinn Féin spokesperson on Addiction, Wellness and Recovery, Thomas Gould TD, has said it is alarming that the National Drugs Strategy is not subject to more frequent oversight and does not provide more regular updates on its work.
Teachta Gould said:
“I asked the Minister in a parliamentary question for the current status of a three year 50 point Action Plan 2017-2020 included in the National Drugs Strategy. I was deeply concerned that the latest figures he could give me were from 2018.
“This is absolutely shocking and I am alarmed that there is not more frequent oversight of this vital area.
“The 2018 figures which he did give me, showed that only 4 actions had been completed, 35 were in progress and 11 had not even started. We need to know if this has improved.
“A three year action strategy such as this deserves much more frequent monitoring than annual reports that aren’t even published halfway through the next year.
“The Junior Minister with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy has already shown his flippant attitude to drug misuse and the failure to pursue finalisation of the 2019 end of year report raises questions about his determination to support recovery and reduce the harmful impacts of drug addiction and misuse.
“Studies have already shown that the Covid-19 pandemic is having a harmful impact on people’s relationships with alcohol and illegal substances. We need to make sure that our services are ready and capable to support people struggling with addiction issues post-pandemic.
“I have today asked the Minister to confirm a date for publication of this report. This issue is urgent and people cannot be expected to wait any longer. We need to know where we are in terms of drug treatment now and we need to see the Minister taking this seriously.”