South Dublin Councillor Charlie O’Connor has called on the Taoiseach to appoint a designated Minister of State with sole responsibility for the Government’s Drugs and Alcohol Policies. He said that the work of the former Minister Aodhan O’Riordan was certainly appreciated across the country but he had to combine his important duties with other responsibilities.
O’Connor is a long time member of the Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force and said there is now a strong demand for a Minister who will concentrate on the remit of the Task Forces.
He said that his call is also based on a demand by the Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force Chairman Eamon Dolan, who is also Chairperson of the Local Drug and Alcohol Task Forces Chairs Network, which reflects the views of those involved in the fight against addiction.
The call on behalf of the Task Forces lists the following demands:
▪ The appointment of a designated Minister of State with special responsibility for the National Drugs & National Substance Misuse Strategy, who has access to cabinet and dedicated staff at the highest level, to deal with issues relevant to the requirements of Drug and Alcohol Task Forces.
▪ That all statutory stakeholders under the National Drugs and Substance Misuse strategies, be mandated to actively participate in the structures and in the implementation of the New Strategy within their area of responsibility at local, regional and national levels.
▪ Access to clarity on the inclusion of alcohol in the New Strategy and the LDATFs’ role in relation to the inclusion
▪ The re-instatement of funding to pre 2009 levels and a separate annual provision to respond to emerging needs
▪ Revitalisation of the Local Development Groups under the aegis of the Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces to ensure Young People’s Facilities and Services funding is provided to meet actual, proven needs for at risk young people within the LDATF areas
▪ That social capital, built up over years through bottom up participation in TF structures, should be central in the development of the new strategy.
▪ Establishment of a national cross-cutting coordinating unit to drive and implement drugs and alcohol responses through local, regional; and national structures.
Councillor O’Connor also added:
“The statistics relating to Drug and Alcohol debts over the past 10 years give rise to serious concern and I can not understand why this issue was not included in the many matters highlighted during the recent Government formation talks. It is important that the Government now take the appointment of this Minister of State seriously.”