Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (902)

Pádraig O'Sullivan


902. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health when the citizens' assembly on drugs will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8718/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Programme for Government includes the commitment to convene a citizen’s assembly to consider matters relating to drug use. The timing of this, and other assemblies, over the lifetime of the Government has yet to be determined. One element critical to the success of assemblies has been the opportunity to meet in person. The restrictions experienced with Covid-19 have presented considerable difficulties in this regard, as meetings moved to being held online. The experiences and learning in this new way of working will inform how future citizen’s assemblies are conducted.

in 2019, the Government published the report of the working group on alternative approach to the possession of drugs for personal use, which was informed by 20,000 public responses to an online survey. Arising from the recommendations of the report, the Department of Health is implementing the health diversion programme for individuals found in possession of drugs for personal use. The programme will be reviewed after the first full year of implementation, to ensure that it is meeting all of it aims and to make any necessary changes.

The Programme for Government commitment to a health-led approach to drug use as set out in the national drugs strategy 2017-2015. The strategy is a dynamic process, subject to ongoing monitoring and review. Accordingly, the Department of Health is conducting a mid-term review of the actions in the national drugs strategy, in consultation with all stakeholders and the national oversight committee. The review is also informed by the new EU drugs strategy and forthcoming work plan.

I look forward to the commencement of the health diversion programme and the development of new actions to guide the national drugs strategy for the next four years. I believe that the learnings to be derived from the programme will further inform the health-led approach to drug use in due course.