I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, for attending. Both Deputy Crowe and I were asked to raise this issue by Tallaght Drug & Alcohol Task Force. The Minister of State will be aware that considerable resources, although not all that were promised, have been channelled into Dublin's north inner city, a project championed by the former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny. As Fianna Fáil's Dublin spokesperson, I welcomed this initiative. What I disliked about it, however, was how the Government isolated its approach to supporting vulnerable communities to Dublin's north inner city. As the Minister of State knows, the most disadvantaged communities in Ireland, in spite of what Rural Independent Deputies might claim, remain in the capital city.
The cuts in recent years have had a huge impact on the provision of front-line support in the areas most affected by problem drug and alcohol use. I represent one such area, Tallaght. The role of Tallaght Drug & Alcohol Task Force in providing supports through projects and initiatives is essential. The effects of the cuts are not limited to, but have involved, the full removal of services in some cases; reductions in opening times of essential services; reduced staffing, with a resultant reduction in the quality of services; and pauses to pay increments for staff. The staff have endured these pauses since 2008. With the recent public pay restoration, projects are now experiencing a loss of essential staff to public bodies where pay and conditions are now far better than in our projects. There are rising costs in other areas, including insurance, and these issues must also be raised. An increase in drug-related deaths and suicides has been documented. The task forces lack the resources to deal with this. We are into December but there is still no allocation confirmed for task forces in the budget for 2018. If it were any other business, the staff would be put on protective notice at this stage.
Compliance visits were carried out in January of this year but the task force is still awaiting the report ten months later. These are just a few issues that I am able to raise in my two minutes. Deputy Crowe will address more.