'Farcical' delay in funding for key Mid-West drugs task force

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan says that there has been no agreement on the provision of funding for drug task forces nationwide, ahead of the New Year. He has described the situation as ‘farcical’

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan says that there has been no agreement on the provision of funding for drug task forces nationwide, ahead of the New Year. He has described the situation as ‘farcical’

THERE could be “deadly consequences” due to a lack of agreement over next year’s budget for a key task force that tackles drugs misuse in the Mid-West.

That is according to Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan who described the lack of budgeting measures for task forces nationwide as “farcical”.

Deputy Quinlivan said that the Mid-West Regional Drug and Alcohol Forum has suffered “massive cuts” over the past 10 years, and that the funds lost “have not been restored”.

“The crisis facing communities across Ireland from the illicit drug trade unfortunately manifests itself in many parts of Limerick. There is open drug dealing, the use of children as drug mules and couriers, an increase in intimidation due to alleged drug debts, increases in certain crime, increased personal debts, and enormous pressure is being put on our health services which is creaking,” he stated this week.

“Alcohol is another challenge that has been grafted onto its workload, yet no extra resources or funding has been granted in recent years. The Government is clearly out of touch with the crisis that is happening in our communities.”

He added:  “We are now in the middle of December and Drugs Task Forces like the forum in the Mid-West Region are still waiting on Government approval for next year’s budget. It is a farcical approach and could have deadly consequences.”

He said that the “financial logjam” is directly impacting on staff at the task force and other local services that deal with drug and alcohol addiction.

“They don’t know whether or what level of funding will be available for 2018 to keep them open and ensure they can deliver their vital services. It also makes it nearly impossible to plan a coherent response to the drug epidemic and the various new challenges it places on communities when they have no real idea what their funding will be.”

He said that Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne should be “championing” additional funding for such projects.