Limerick TD calls for new drugs task force in city

HEALTH: TD URGES GOVERNMENT TO SET UP LOCAL TASK FORCE

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Limerick TD calls for new drugs task force in city

Deputy Quinlivan has called for a new drugs misuse task force to be set up in the city

SINN Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan has urged the Department of Health to establish a local drugs task force in the city, to help tackle substance misuse problems in Limerick.

Deputy Quinlivan recently raised the issue with Minister of State Deputy Catherine Byrne in the Dáil.

He told the Limerick Leader that he has been campaigning for a new facility for a number of years, and there “never has been an explanation” for not providinga local service. 

“We have a huge number of heroin addicts in the city, and I have always believed that a focus on the city would be very, very useful, and that is why I have been campaigning for this for a long time.

“There is one in Cork, there is one in Bray, there is quite a number of them in Dublin, and we never got one in Limerick. While there is a problem with drugs all across the Mid-West region, Limerick’s problem is unique. We would have benefitted and we will benefit from a local drugs task force,” he said this week. 

He also asked Deputy Byrne why funding for the Mid-West Task Force has been cut. He claimed that funding has been reduced by 51.8% since 2009. 

Deputy Byrne said that “every effort has been made to protect the budgets” of the regional task forces.

“The overall allocation to the Mid-West Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force for community-based drugs initiatives from the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive in 2016 is €1,407,989. This is the same overall level of funding allocated in 2014 and 2015, and a reduction of 9% on the 2009 allocation,” she responded. 

She said that her Department has commissioned external consultants to develop a framework for drug and alcohol task forces across the country.

“The study will also inform the question of how best to align Drug and Alcohol Task Forces in order to address locally identified needs.”

She added that the framework is also under consideration for the development of the new national drugs strategy.