- Sex & Drugs
- 21 Feb 22
The Dublin Mayoralty has been deemed more important than tackling Ireland's third-worst-in-Europe drug problem, which claims 786 lives a year
The government appears to have reneged on Micheál Martin’s Dáil Éireann pledge this month that the long overdue Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use will take place before the end of 2022.
A statement issued this afternoon says: “Minister Feighan expects the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use will take place in 2023, once the citizens’ assemblies on the Dublin mayoralty and on biodiversity are completed.
“The Minister is very positive about the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use and looks forward to its contribution to the Government’s health-led approach to drugs.”
Once again, there seems to be absolutely no urgency in tackling Ireland’s third-worst-in-Europe drug problem, which according to the latest available data translates into 786 drug-related deaths a year.
With the next General Election needing to happen on or before February 20, 2025, there’s a very real possibility that there won’t be time to hold the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use and/or consider its findings during the term of this Dáil. Indeed, there's an overwhelming sense of the issue being kicked down the road for someone else – most likely Sinn Féin – to deal with later.
The new issue of Hot Press, which features Pillow Queens and The Batman on the flip-cover, highlights both the urgent need for a Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs and concerns about the performance of the Minister for Drugs, Frank Feighan, since being appointed to the position in July 2020.
“It’s really hard for me to get my head around why drugs wouldn’t be the number one priority,” Senator Lynn Ruane tells Hot Press. “From academics to doctors to politicians to service users, so many people are calling for a Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs.
“It’s evident from his terrible performance at the Health Committe weeks’ previous that Frank Feighan has no understanding of the National Drugs Strategy, its brief, the issues it reaches into and the far-reaching impact it has on neglected communities. This isn’t about personalising things – it’s about holding somebody accountable for showing absolutely no leadership in their position. You have unelected civil servants with their own agenda, and a Minister that doesn’t actually do much talking on the drugs issue. You have all these big questions – the drug task forces, the drugs strategy, detox beds, (opioid reversal drug) Naloxone – being completely ignored."
Reacting to today's developments, Senator Ruane has messaged: "If this government cares about this issue then they will support my amendment to end this delay. On Wednesday we will debate my amendment to the motion on the citizens' assembly."
The announcement hasn't gone down well either with one of the Minister's coalition partners, Green Party TD and Health Spokesperson Neasa Hourigan who messages: "I'm confused by this timeline from the minister. It contradicts the statement by the Taoiseach on the floor of the Dáil two weeks ago when he said the Citizens' Assembly on Drugs would commence by the end of this year?"
Neasa Hourigan and Social Democrats representative Holly Cairns also contribute to the Can A Citizens’ Assembly Do For Drug Policy What It Did For Repeal? report in the new Hot Press, a longer form version of which will be appearing later this month on hotpress.com.
.@FrankFeighan has now said a CA wont happen until 2023. If this gov cares about this issue then they will support my amendment to end this delay. On Wednesday we will debate my amendment to the motion on the citizen assembly. https://t.co/Rz2ymfRxeZ pic.twitter.com/D6Qhw3Z2oq
— Senator Lynn Ruane (@SenLynnRuane) February 21, 2022
I'm confused by this timeline from the minister. It contradicts the statement by the Taoiseach on the floor of the Dail two weeks ago when he said the Citizens Assembly on Drugs would commence by the end of this year? https://t.co/5RqoR25Kib
— Neasa Hourigan TD (@neasa_neasa) February 21, 2022