Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (830)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

830. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the progress made on the commitment in the Programme for Government which pledges to implement the recommendations of the Working Group to Consider Alternative Approaches to the Possession of Drugs for Personal Use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8494/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Programme for Government commits to implementing the Health Diversion Programme as an important step in developing a public health-led approach to drug use. This programme will connect people who use drugs with health services and a pathway to recovery, avoiding a criminal conviction, which can have far-reaching consequences for people, particularly younger people.

There are two components to the Health Diversion Programme whereby a person in possession of drugs, determined by An Garda Síochána to be for personal use, on the first occasion would be referred by An Garda Síochána on a mandatory basis to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for a health screening and brief intervention. On the second occasion, An Garda Síochána would have discretion to issue an Adult Caution.

An implementation, monitoring and evaluation group, chaired by the Department of Health, is implementing the Health Diversion Programme. The group is finalising proposals to commence implementation of the programme on an administrative basis in a number of locations in 2021.

As outlined in the Programme for Government, a review of the programme will take place following the first full year of implementation, to ensure that it is meeting all of its aims.

I am committed to a health-led approach for possession of drugs for personal use, and I look forward to the commencement of the Health Diversion Programme in 2021.