Cocaine/ heroin use in Cork far from ‘exaggerated’

As the new Minister for Drugs, John Curran’s statement at the weekend regarding cocaine abuse in Ireland strongly suggests that he is misguided and seriously out of touch with the situation on the ground, according to Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson for Community, Senator Jerry Buttimer.

“The new Minister for Drugs’ comments this weekend, that the extent of cocaine abuse among young people in Ireland has been ‘exaggerated’ in recent years, are irresponsible, negligent and seriously ill-informed.

“Statements such as this do little to inspire confidence that the Minister is up to the task of adequately tackling the escalating drug problem which has besieged this country in recent years.

“The new National Drugs Strategy, which covers the period to 2016 and which is due to be launched on September 10th, is to be warmly welcomed especially in the context of the growing drug problem in towns and cities across Ireland. Drug abuse is no longer a problem confined just to Dublin and the Minister would be well advised to show an interest in the situation by acknowledging the full extent of cocaine abuse in cities such as Cork.

“The present drug policy is simply not working. Funding for treatment centres, youth projects and drug facilities is being cut and drug users are finding it increasingly difficult to access services.

“If we are to meet the needs of those who are drug dependent, delivery is critical, as is the need for accountability. We have had no joined up thinking between the different agencies over the past five years which has resulted in a failed system. What is needed is a community based, people centred policy to address the needs of local communities. We need a more flexible model, a change in how we spend money and allocate resources so that the maximum benefit can be achieved. There is little point in creating a new Office of the Minister for Drugs unless it is coupled with appropriate action to address the critical needs of drug users.

“The Minister is welcome to come to Cork at any time to meet with the Cork City Council Policing Forum, of which I am a member, to ascertain first hand the scale of the problem in Cork and to see for himself the extent to which this escalating problem is the furthest thing possible from being exaggerated.”