- 02 Apr 19
The new #SaferFromHarm campaign video sends out a strong message to Minister Catherine Byrne and the National Drugs Strategy working group
Marian Keyes, Damien Dempsey, Emmet Kirwan, James Kavanagh, Philly McMahon and Hot Press’ Roisin Dwyer are among those calling for the decriminalisation of people who use drugs.
The new #SaferFromHarm campaign video also includes personal testimony from those adversely affected by the current court-driven Misuse Use of Drugs Act.
“How we currently treat drug users does not work and needs to change,” insists Marian Keyes while Damien Dempsey believes that, “We need to treat drug use as a health issue, not a court issue.”
Jack Nolan, the retired Assistant Garda Commissioner, adds: “I was a member of An Garda Síochána for almost the entire 42 years we’ve had drug legislation in Ireland. From my experience, it has not reduced the problem. The whole apparatus of the criminal justice system is significantly involved in the processing of what in often times and often instances can be a relatively minor and simple offence. Those who have significant drugs problems are those who get the least amount of help and suffer the most.”
Echoing those sentiments, Tony Duffin, the CEO of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, says: “More and more, Irish people are recognising that criminalising people, our loved ones, causes significant harm. Rather than providing services and interventions, people are labelled criminals, adding to the stigma and shame. This is a compassionate and pragmatic response, grounded in the best available evidence. This is an opportunity to make an early intervention, when it matters the most, and provide those in need with guidance and support.”
The #SaferFromHarm initiative is backed by over a dozen organisations including Ana Liffey, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, HIV Ireland, Merchants Quay Ireland and Hot Press.
“This is mandatory viewing for the working group who will soon be recommending options to Minister Catherine Byrne in relation to the new National Drugs Strategy,” Hot Press Assistant Editor, Stuart Clark, reflects. “It’s clear looking at the success of the Portuguese model that decriminalisation is the effective and compassionate way forward for Ireland. Anything less would represent a political fudge and will undoubtedly lead to more drug-related deaths.”