Fine Gael Seanad Drugs Spokesman Jerry Buttimer has called for the creation of a National Forum on Drugs to tackle the ever-growing problem of drug use, drug dealing and drug warfare.
“Drugs now affect every city, town and village in our country. We have seen how cocaine can strike people down in minutes. But this scourge also has serious and long lasting repercussions for the innocent and not-so-innocent. The crisis that is facing the Gardaí, parents, and those addicted to illegal drugs demands a strong and unified response. We need a debate on identifying the factors associated with high drug usage to find creative, innovative and practical strategies that will enable us to gain some control over a situation that has unfortunately spiralled out of control.
“It is imperative that we capitalise on the recent media focus of our ongoing drug epidemic. All our community stakeholders must come together to discuss this issue and how best to tackle it in a united, co-ordinated way. We need to engage with drug users so that we may help them and understand the motivations behind drug abuse. Too often we speak about educating school students about the dangers of drugs. In reality we need to educate the whole of society about the realities of drug abuse in our communities.
“As I said recently in the Seanad it is essential that we ask ourselves some key and relevant questions:
– What are the changes in society that have seen an increase in the number of people begin to experiment with illegal drugs and transition into long-term use?
– What is the process of transition through the so-called gateways to more serious and addictive forms of drug use? Why have current educational and public health preventative strategies failed in the prevalence of up-take of drug use amongst young people?
– What deficits exist with respect to the deployment and resourcing of state agencies responsible for the control of this illegal activity – the Gardaí, Revenue and Customs and Excise?
– Why has the price of a human life become so devalued and cheapened that so called drug barons think little of shooting dead innocent bystanders or even of fellow drug criminals? Why is there a public disconnect between ‘recreational’ drug use and criminal activity?
– What is actually required to enable a person to successfully become free of the dependence of drugs?
“A National Forum on Drugs would bring together a wide range of Government Departments, Gardaí, the HSE, local drugs task forces, community activists, young people, professional groups and all interested parties, to discuss how best to tackle this issue at a local and national level.”