Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (1188)

Fergus O'Dowd


1188. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health if he will prioritise and outline the measures he will take to address the significant drug-related activity that has escalated in Drogheda, County Louth and its surrounding areas in view of the murder that took place on 27 August 2019 in Clogherhead, County Louth; the action he will take to address the perceived complete lack of drug outreach workers in Drogheda; if he has assessed or progressed matters relating to funding a Mulvey-type report to assess and plan appropriately to manage the drugs crisis in view of the recent drug-related criminality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36158/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Various state agencies, led by the local authority and involving An Garda Síochána, HSE, Probation Services, Tusla, Education and Training Boards, and the North East Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force, are working together to address drug-related activity in Drogheda.

The introduction of measures to address drug related criminal activity primarily comes within the remit of An Garda Síochána and the Minister for Justice and Equality.

The remit of the Department of Health and the HSE is to reduce harm and support recovery from drug use, in line with the public health approach set out in the national drug strategy.

The HSE has appointed a senior counsellor with the priority of developing and supporting counselling services in Drogheda. The HSE also intends to recruit an additional outreach worker in Drogheda to enhance its existing service. I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly with on update on this post.

In March 2019, I announced additional funding of €1 million for implementation of the National Drugs Strategy. This funding, which will be provided on a recurring, multi-annual basis, will address the priorities set down in the Strategy. CHOs and drug and alcohol tasks forces were invited to submit proposals under this funding. These proposals are currently being assessed.

I visited the North East earlier this year to hear about drug related issues in the area and the impact they have on families. The issues are multi-faceted and require an inter-agency response. I'm confident that the HSE and the North East Drug and Alcohol Task Force are contributing to this response from a public health perspective.