Fianna Fáil calls for appointment of Minister for Drugs

Party claims issue has slipped off the Government’s agenda


Politicians need to be careful about sending out a message that cannabis is okay to purchase or use, Fianna Fáil has warned.

In a policy document, the party has proposed the appointment of a minister for drugs and drawing up a new national substance misuse strategy which would include alcohol.

Senator Darragh O’Brien said there was a view emerging from abroad, and from some politicians, that cannabis was an acceptable drug.

“There are a lot of politicians who are saying that. People who are across the road in Leinster House and other people who are members of the European Parliament believe it is fine to take this. But look at the new toxic make-ups of cannabis - they are having drastic effects on our young people.

“People should be careful about what they say, in particular people in public life giving the impression that cannabis is fine and it won’t do you any harm. Every drug will do you harm if it is abused and that is the reality of it.”

Justice spokesman Niall Collins said there was a perception developing that cannabis was one step up from tobacco. This needed to be quashed.

Mr Collins said the issue had slipped off the Government’s agenda and a Minister with responsibility for drugs needed to be appointed.

“Fianna Fáil’s first proposal is to reappoint a minister for drugs with responsibility for pulling together all the existing services in the areas of health, justice, social services and local government.

“At the moment, communication between these services is on an ad hoc basis at best, and services are often operating in isolation or even in conflict with one another.”

Mr Collins said there was a need for politicians to take a stand on the “huge problem” of drugs.

“On average one person per day dies as a result of a drug overdose and it is not being prioritised by the Government.

“There are all types of all-out costs associated with drugs in terms of law and order, burglaries, public order and it impacts on business and community and tourism.”