National Drugs Strategy Minister, Catherine Byrne, attended discussions on drug decriminalisation.
Details have been revealed of Dublin Drug Policy Summit, which in January brought together “leading figures from Europe, North America and Australia to discuss two topical issues in drug policy – supervised injecting facilities and decriminalisation.”
These included the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe, and National Drugs Strategy Minister, Catherine Byrne, who’s subsequently advanced the Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Centres) Bill 2017 and, according to leaked information, is planning to float the idea of decriminalisation in the new National Drugs Strategy, which is due in the summer.
“These are both concepts which potentially challenge the status quo, and as such they can raise fears for many people,” reflects Dublin Drug Policy Summit Chairperson, Eva Maguire. “They are, however, also topics which are not specific to an Irish context. Indeed, many countries have implemented, or are actively considering implementing, policy in these areas. At the summit, we had the benefit of the expertise and insight of international academics and practitioners in both areas. The purpose of the session was to help Ireland, as a country learn from their experiences as we consider the practicalities of policy change.”
Organised by the Ana Liffey Project, the summit under the Chatham House Rule, whereby the themes of the discussions are reported, but no individual or organisation is identified as having made any particular statement.
The summary notes that, “Decriminalisation does not imply a lack of consequences. However, it does permit a health based, person centred approach to be taken, and avoids the person having the stigma of being criminalised. It is important to be clear in communicating precisely what is meant by ‘decriminalisation’ as this often isn’t clear. Threshold limits are likely to be a necessary part of any decriminalisation model. These must be carefully selected and the approach taken to enforcement must be flexible.
“Whilst there was significant support for decriminalisation as a policy for Ireland at the summit, it was not unanimous, and not all delegates agreed that decriminalisation was the correct drug policy choice for Ireland.
“In general, the issue is in changing the criminal law to decriminalise possession for personal use (and, in some cases, petty, non-violent drug crime), reducing harm and allowing the police and legal system to focus their resources on drug dealers and organised crime.
“Criminalisation itself is in large part responsible for problems like stigmatisation. In moving to a health-led approach it is hoped that in time people will accept that to support people who use drugs problematically, it can be recognised that proper care is required rather than criminalisation. Society at large needs a supportive architecture of compassion to enable perceptions to change.
“There are many ways to decriminalise, or at least reduce criminalisation that have been implemented in other countries. There is no ‘one-size-fits all’, prescriptive solution. As a nation, Ireland must attempt to find a lower level of repression, one that abandons the stance on removing the rights of people to choose which drugs are acceptable. Alcohol and cigarettes were raised as examples of dangerous, addictive substances with huge personal and social costs attached, yet society does not seek to control simple possession or use via the criminal law.
“It was noted that the markets for cigarettes and alcohol are legal and regulated. Though important to distinguish decriminalisation from regulation, it was noted that regulating markets can remove them from the criminal sphere. If done properly, regulation can help States minimise harm by moderating the production and sales environment in the same way that exists for chemicals, medicines and food.”
The Summit also presented a strong case for the pilot medically supervised injecting facility to be situated where the need is most acute, i.e. Dublin city-centre.
“In the context of Dublin, it was noted that a city centre location made sense,” the report continues. “It was also noted that Dublin was not the only location where stakeholders had called for implementation of supervised injecting facilities. In particular, stakeholders in Cork have identified a need for a Supervised Injecting Facility and have identified a suitable building.
“International examples show us that there is no increase in crime associated with the introduction of Supervised Injecting Facilities. There has been some evidence of a reduction in certain types of crime and this should be explored further. Nonetheless, it was noted that supervised injecting is not a criminal justice intervention and should not be expected to impact significantly on crime, either positively or negatively. The key benefits will be in terms of service user health and public amenity.
“There is great interest in the community about where the facility will be located. There are a lot of stakeholders and ‘NIMBYISM’ will undoubtedly be an issue.”
The overall feeling at the Summit is that “criminalisation is harmful.”
“Prohibitionist policies don’t demonstrably impede drug markets, but they do have other effects,” the report states. “For example, they affect the way professionals engage with drug users. If a service provider becomes aware that a person is in possession of drugs, they must take steps to address this to ensure they are not exposing staff to criminal liability. Under current laws, users are by definition criminals and criminalisation is stigmatising. It can contribute to drug users remaining cautious about accessing services. Thus, there is a fundamental contradiction in the current system, where drug use is recognised as a health issue, but in order to receive assistance for that issue it is necessary for the person to be labelled as a criminal.
“In terms of other jurisdictions, it was noted that in Portugal possession for personal use was decriminalised and responsibility was moved from the criminal justice system and placed under the Ministry for Health. The health administration authority has the power to apply sanctions. In practice, the substance is not the issue but the pattern of use of the individual. Each person needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis.
“The current system in Portugal works better than what was there before. It is much more focused on the person, and because the function is under the Ministry of Health, people are more willing to take the guidance being offered. It is not perceived in the same way as a court of law, which is important. It also allows police to focus on and deal with supply rather than possession.
“The focus in Portugal now is clearly on health issues and health problems. This can be contrasted with the previous situation. Under criminalisation, if a drug user comes for help, he is admitting that he’s a serial criminal. Without this stigma, all other interventions are made easier and more accessible to those who need them.
“In Portugal, decriminalisation was intended to make things be more fluid. It’s important to note that when possession was considered a crime, the courts were generally applying the same sanctions, which are now applied by the Ministry for Health. However, now the sanctions come without the criminal record, the stigma and the expending of large amounts of resources. “
Here's a few Netflix additions to get you through the rough three day weekend.Read More
The British pop/rock band will play alongside Arcade Fire at Ormeau Park, Belfast on June 13Read More
It was 20 years ago that U2’s legendary PopMart tour hit the road. Here we revisit Hot Press’ Neil McCormick's AAA report.Read More
Two decades after their groundbreaking sonic departure we delve into the archives as Niall Stokes grills the Irish superstarsRead More
Irish indie pop fans have a good reason to smile. After a decade's absence from the tour circuit here, Saucy Monky – fronted by Annmarie Cullen and Cynthia Catania – return with a short run of all-acoustic gigs.Read More
The R n B supergroup are Sin E-boundRead More
The European Parliament Culture Committee wants 30% European content on Netflix and other VoD services in every EU member state.Read More
Pixar's Cars 3 has a new full trailerRead More
The singer-songwriter will release a deluxe 10-CD box set, includes all eight solo albums, plus Butterfly, a newly recorded set, and Rarities, a disc of previously unreleased and rare tracks in June .Read More
Those who like tribute bands are in for a real treat this upcoming May Bank Holiday weekend, as both 'Thin Az Lizzy' & 'Mack Fleetwood' will take to the stage at The Church Bar & Restaurant venue near Jervis St in Dublin between 27-28 AprilRead More
The new edition is published by South Bank Press in paperback and for the first time in e-reading format on Kindle.Read More
Irish film Director Damien O’Callaghan returns with The Gift, an independently financed movie about grief and suicide.Read More
The Norwegian DJ will headline District 8 with a live show Friday, June 16.Read More
23-year old Irish actress Saoirse Ronan will take on the historical role of Mary Stuart in Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of Scots movie.Read More
The multi-platinum sensation will come to Dublin in September for one night only.Read More
The Swedish electronic quartet return to Dublin on October 31.Read More
Emma Watson, known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter-series and more recently for her role as Belle in the Beauty and the Beast-remake, elaborates on the dangers of social media.Read More
The Dublin Sci-Fi Film Festival just revealed that the opening film for for the festival will be Luc Besson’s piece The Fifth Element.Read More
Fresh from their appearance at Levon Helm Tribute Night over the weekend, The Strawhall House Band will return to The Sugar Club on May 1 for the launch of their appropriately titled new album Six Days In May.Read More
Hot Press is celebrating the 20-year milestone of U2’s Pop Mart Tour, highlighting the original 1997 cover featured on the Hot Press’s U2 cover wall.Read More
The actor tells all about portraying Martin McGuinness in director Nick Hamm's new film.Read More
Culture Club was just added to the festival’s line up for July 29.Read More
The pop star isn't exactly thrilled that the story of her life is headed to the silver screen.Read More
Camden’s KOKO club will host some of the best of grime, hip-hop and disco house on the KOKO Burst Stage; featuring artists such as Crazy P Soundsystem, Icarus, Jay Prince, New Gen & Friends, NVOY, Jafaris, DJ Cable and Jonny X.Read More
The Irish folk singer tweeted this morning in opposition to the plans to give ownership of the new €300m taxpayer-funded National Maternity Hospital to the Religious Sisters of Charity – because they own the land on which it is to be built.Read More
The 2017 Baywatch-movie delivers a fourth trailer featuring a cross-dressing Zac Affron, humor and mediocre CGI-fires.Read More
It will go down as the biggest gaffe in the history of the Oscars when Warren Beatty and his co-cost accidentally read out the wrong name for the best picture...Read More
TV stylist Cathy O’Connor and world-renowned fashion blogger Louise Cooney have today been announced as special guests at ‘A Stylish Afternoon Tea’ fashion and beauty event, taking place in the Newgrange Hotel, Navan, Co Meath on Sunday May 14, 2017.Read More
Oscar-nominated director Juanita Wilson's latest film will be available to watch at home this Friday.Read More
The film will focus on Madonna's early career in the 80s, her love life, and her struggles with sexism in the industry.Read More
The South African social activist said, “Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over.”Read More
Tickets for Oliver's August gig at Custom House Square will be available this Friday.Read More
The British artist and musician will be Ireland-bound this May.Read More
The platinum-certified artist will play a headline show at Custom House Square in August.Read More
Duncan Reid and The Big Heads are touring to support the release of their third album Bombs Away, which is out on May 19.Read More
The indie-folk songwriter's new EP, Attach to Memory will be available May 24.Read More
The legendary musician and producer will play at the Dublin Unitarian Church this Friday.Read More
The original girl power band are reforming.Read More
The singer is set to come to Dublin to debut his new album this monthRead More
Harry Potter In Concert brings the first movie: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone back to the screen accompanied by a live symphony orchestra.Read More
The event has received support from President Michael D. Higgins and Adi Roche.Read More
Happy Mondays have been added the as headliners for this summer's Bulmers Live at LeopardstownRead More
On May 5, 2017 the New York DJ is coming to Dublin’s Index.Read More
After the sped-up predecessor, the first full trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle has arrived.Read More
Good news for Electric Picnic ticket-holders, as the French indie band gear up for a performance there this September.Read More
1980’s Eurovision Song Contest Winner Shay Healy has had his trophy on a glass shelf until recently somebody stole it.Read More
The threat North Korea poses has become very real and by demand of the population, the Japanese government has issued worst-case scenario guidelines.Read More
After reports that Deadpool 2 would arrive in the cinemas in early 2018, it’s been revealed now that the irreverent superhero will be back on the screens in summer 2018.Read More
Amid rumours that he's quitting music after his Divide tour, Ed Sheeran tweeted two words that put the gossip to rest.Read More
Belgian Oscar And The Wolf has finished writing, recording and producing his new album.Read More
Calling all developers and coders - Dublin is to play host to a Ticketmaster Hackathon where the local developer community will be invited to help create the best ticketing experience for fans.Read More
She's over in September to coincide with the release of her Native Invaders album.Read More
The former Presidential candidate will travel to Ireland for the first time.Read More
James Cameron is working on 4 Avatar sequels and each has received a release date. A Facebook post announced December 18, 2020, December 17, 2021, December 20,2024 and December 19, 2025.Read More
Chris Rea will play The Olympia Theatre this December as part of a European tour to celebrate the release of his new album Road Songs for Lovers.Read More
Monroe’s Tavern in Galway continues to provide the best of international, national or local acts for every taste of music.Read More
There was nothing predictable about the outcome of the deliberations of the so-called Citizen's Assembly – but the real question remains how liberal will the laws on abortion in Ireland become?Read More
At 2.30pm this afternoon, the Citizen's Assembly voted by a slim majority to recommend that Article 40.3.3 (known as the 8th Amendment) to the Constitution should be replaced or amended.Read More
The Citizen's Assembly, which was tasked with deliberating on matters to do with the 8th Amendment, has voted comprehensively that a change should be made to the current status quo.Read More
Taking place over three days in May, Music Cork will create a unique opportunity in Ireland to listen to some of the best industry professionals talk about their work and experiences, see the best new talent perform and enjoy plenty of opportunities to network with speakers and delegates over three days of intimate social gatherings and shows.Read More
AeroMobil, a Slovakian tech-company, has presented their commercially available Version 4.0 flying car at the Top Marques Monaco 2017.Read More
The new track can't catch up to "Shape of You", but it has reached number four this week.Read More
Three new video logs have been released. The footage was left behind by crew members aboard the spaceship covenant before they entered cryosleep.Read More
K-Dot debuts one spot from the top with new album DAMN.Read More
Luke 'Ming' Flanagan has told us what happened when himself, Gino Kenny and Vera arrived in this afternoon from Barcelona where she'd obtained medicinal cannabis for her daughter...Read More
She's finally made it through to Arrivals having had the medicine she needs for her daughter, Ava, confiscated...Read More
Body & Soul, which takes place on June 23-25, 2017 in Ballinlough, Co. Westmeath, provides visitors a mix of music, art, food, theatre and more.Read More
Rualie Buaile are among the Irish bands set to be supported by Culture Ireland.Read More
The 90s sci-fi hit is coming back again for a ten-episode run.Read More
HBO released exclusive pictures of the seventh season of Game Of Thrones on their site yesterday.Read More
“3-D THE CATALOGUE” will feature performances from Kraftwerk in some of the leading contemporary art museums in the world.Read More
The new collaboration will create at least two new shows per year, with the first expected to air in 2018.Read More
The one-time plumber from Crumlin makes the list.Read More
As the world came to terms with the loss of Prince, the likes of Lianne Le Havas, Janelle Monáe, Ani Di Franco, Simon Le Bon and former New Power Generation drummer John Blackwell reflected on both the man and the myth. Raiding the archives: Stuart Clark.Read More
Paul Nolan casts a critic's ear over the great man's remarkable career...Read More
The festival, which will take place on the 3rd and 4th June, announces the return of the European Firestone Music Tour with a Battle of Bands.Read More
Scouting For Girls are set to play a 10th anniversary tour with their headline Irish show in the Academy Dublin on November 8.Read More
To celebrate the release of the new album ‘Humanz’ (Fri April 28th), you are invited to the Humanz House Party, an exclusive worldwide listening event...Read More
Accompanied by Gino Kenny & Luke Flanagan, Vera is flying in to Dublin this morning with the banned medicine her daughter, Ava, desperately needs.Read More
What has been billed as the first East West Easter Friendship Concert takes place on Saturday in Moscow – and the Irish Norwegian song will be given pride of place at it.Read More
Longtime U2 producer Steve Lillywhite's mix of The Joshua Tree track 'Red Hill Mining Town' was premiered by Irish DJ Dave Fanning and will get a limited-edition 12" vinyl release this month, along with selected stills from U2 photographer Anton Corbijn.Read More
Bob Marley's son Ziggy Marley will curate the reissue of Exodus 40 - The Movement Continues, which will be available as a gold-coloured vinyl or CD and will feature the original Release and the live Album. It will be released on June 2.Read More
The new music video featuring Nicki Minaj, Drake and Lil Wayne is visually interesting and accompanied with a great, smooth rap.Read More
We're gearing up for the launch of Music Cork, a new May three-dayer where you can come face to face with international industry heavyweights...Read More
Freeform, the American TV channel, releases the first trailer of Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger series.Read More
'Immigrant Boogie' will get a live airing here in October.Read More
Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled has a new disturbingly enticing trailer.Read More
The Reids have announced a Vicar St. gig in October.Read More