I am sharing time with Deputy Ellis. Is the Minister of State confident that sufficient funding has been allocated to drug and alcohol task forces to allow them to achieve the better outcomes envisaged in the national drugs strategy? As the Minister of State is well aware, drugs are a massive plague in many communities across the State. Not nearly enough is being done or invested to tackle the root problems behind this epidemic. I am a member of the Mid-West Regional Drugs and Alcohol Forum and I know that my city of Limerick has a worsening drugs problem. Heroin, cocaine, the excessive use of alcohol, gambling and the misuse of prescription drugs are causing huge problems right across the city. Unfortunately, class A drugs such as cocaine are becoming all the more common, particularly among middle-class people. The use of cocaine is rampant in nightclubs and pubs across the country and this has escalated in recent years. In addition, it is estimated that hundreds of people in Limerick are now addicted to heroin alone.
The normalisation of drug use, and particularly of class A drug use, is of deep concern to me and others and it is something that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The misuse of drugs in Limerick is increasing on an almost daily basis. The outcome of that can be seen on the streets. Polydrug use, including the misuse of prescription drugs combined with alcohol, is having a devastating effect across Limerick city. The continued failure to resource properly those who are working on the front line against the scourge of drug addiction is simply not acceptable. It is unsustainable and, for that reason, the problem is getting worse.
I have said this in the Chamber on a number of occasions and it depresses me to say it again, but the national drugs strategy will fail if the funding for it is not increased. Without additional resources, there is no hope of it achieving its aims. I really do wish it to succeed but, without funding, I have no confidence that it will.
Another massive problem in this area is that families are being left to pay the drug debts of their members. Some people are being forced to take out large expensive loans from moneylenders, which only creates further problems. Will the Minister of State outline what extra investment and resources she will be seeking in the upcoming budget to tackle these issues? Will she outline the action she has taken to address the normalisation of drug use and the issue of moneylending and family drug debts?