Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has described the lack of engagement by State representatives from the Departments of Education, Social Protection, Justice and Health with Drug Task Forces as “unacceptable.”
The Sinn Féin TD also said it is farcical that next year’s budget for Task Forces has not yet been agreed, despite the fact that we are in the middle of December, and this failure could have deadly consequences.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“The crisis facing communities across Ireland from the illicit drug trade manifests itself in many parts of Dublin South West.
“There is open drug dealing, the use of children as drug mules and couriers, an increase in intimidation due to alleged drug debts, a spate of suicides, increases in certain crime, increased personal debts, and enormous pressure is being put on our health services which is creaking.
“The local Tallaght Drugs Task Force has found itself in an impossible position of having the onerous responsibility for the roll out of the Governments Drug Strategy, but also having its hands tied by key components of that strategy, like the Department of Education, Social Protection, Health and Justice, not attending meetings.”
Deputy Crowe added that it’s not just addiction to illegal drugs which is suffering from a lack of funding.
“Alcohol is another challenge that has been grafted on to its workload, yet no extra resources or funding has been granted in recent years. The Government is clearly out of touch with the crisis that is happening in our communities.
“We are now in the middle of December and Drugs Task Forces like Tallaght are still waiting on Government approval for next year’s budget. It is a farcical approach and could have deadly consequences.
“This financial logjam is directly impacting on those employed by Task Forces or Community Projects.
“They don’t know whether funding will be available for next year to keep them open. It also makes it nearly impossible to plan a coherent response to the drug epidemic and the various new challenges it places on communities when they have no real idea what their funding will be.
“The Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne, who should be championing additional funding and resources to help fight this crisis has remained silent. She is clearly out of touch and out her depth when it comes to the unique challenges facing families and communities from the growing poisonous illicit drug trade.”