Written Answers. - National Drugs Strategy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

347 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans to assist groups attempting to combat drug abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4067/03]

As the Deputy is aware, my Department has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the national drugs strategy 2001-2008. The strategy aims to tackle the drug problem in the most comprehensive way ever undertaken in this country and contains 100 individual actions, under the four pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research, to be implemented by a range of Departments and agencies.

My Department also has responsibility for the work of the local drugs task forces which were established in 1997 in the areas experiencing the worst levels of drug misuses, particularly heroin. Currently there are 14 local drugs task forces – 12 in Dublin, one in Cork and one in Bray.

The role of the LDTFs is to prepare local action plans which include a range of measure in relation to treatment, rehabilitation, education, prevention and curbing local supply. In addition the LDTFs provide a mechanism for the co-ordination of services in these areas, while at the same time allowing local communities and voluntary organisations to participate in the planning, design and delivery of those services. They are designed to complement and add value to the extensive range of interventions being delivered through the State agencies.

All the LDTFs with the exception of Bray are currently implementing their second round of action plans and to date over €14.5 million has been allocated. In total the Government has allocated over €51 million to implement the projects contained in the plans of the task forces since 1997.

The Deputy should note that in addition to the moneys available under the action plans, €12.7 million was provided under the premises initiative which is designed to meet the accommodation needs to community based drugs projects, the majority of which are in LDTF areas. To date, over €11 million has been allocated to projects under this initiative.

The Deputy should also note that the young peoples facilities and services fund operates in the 14 local drugs task force areas and in a number of other urban centres – Limerick, Galway, Carlow and Waterford. The main aim of the fund is to attract "at risk" young people in disadvantaged areas into recreational facilities and activities and divert them away from the dangers of substance abuse. An amount of approximately €59 million has been allocated to date under the first round of funding.

In addition the Deputy should note that under the national drugs strategy 2001-2008 it is proposed to set up regional drugs task forces – RDTFs – in the ten health board regions throughout the country. The new task forces will bring together the relevant statutory, voluntary and community sectors to assess the service needs and the extent of drug use in their areas. It is my intention that all of the RDTF members will work in partnership, in a manner similar to the local drugs task forces and that they will hold their first meetings in March 2003.

Question No. 348 answered with Question No. 346.