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  • Southside

Concern over Drug Task Forces budgets

Tuesday, 2nd January, 2018 8:00am
Concern over Drug Task  Forces budgets


Concern over Drug Task  Forces budgets


THE Government has been criticised for what has been described as a lack of urgency around the allocation of budgets for local Drug Task Forces.

Deputy Seán Crowe (SF) said that a response he received from the Minister for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy before Christmas suggested that this year’s budgets for the task forces had still not been signed off on and would not be announced until later this month.

 “The Government’s current drug and alcohol strategy is operating against a background of drug feuds and murders, open drug dealing in many areas, intimidation, increasing drug-related deaths, and even children being used as runners,” Deputy Crowe said.

“There is also an increasing number of drug-related suicides. All of this then is placing a significant burden and additional pressure on the health and mental health services. 

“Drug Task Forces are supposedly on the front line co-ordinating a response to this growing countrywide problem. However, despite this, there is still no agreement on the 2018 budgets for these important task forces.”

Deputy Crowe said that when he raised this issue with the Minister for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, she indicated that the budgets had not been signed off on and would not be announced until sometime in January.

“This is absolutely bonkers and making a farce of pre-planning and proper governance,” Deputy Crowe added.

“This budget delay is directly impacting on staff who should legally be put on protective notice as there is uncertainty around funding their wages, and on community based drug projects who rely on funding.

“It is making it impossible for anyone in Drug Task Forces areas to prepare and plan for the coming year.”

In a response to Deputy Crowe’s concerns, the Minister for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, said that it was intended that Local and Regional Task Forces would be notified of their 2018 allocations by the Department of Health and the HSE as soon as the HSE’s 2018 National Service Plan had been approved by Minister Simon Harris.

“The  service plan was submitted to Minister Harris on December 8 and is subject to his approval,” the minister stated.

“The legislation provides for a total of 21 days for the minister to examine the proposed plan and, where necessary, to seek amendment to or to approve the plan,” the minister added.

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