Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Ceisteanna (926)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

926. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Health when he expects the citizens' assembly on drugs to convene; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11808/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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, following the publication of 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, the Government agreed to adopt a health-lead approach, which offers compassion, not punishment, to people who use drugs.

The Department of Health is chairing an implementation group for the commencement of the Health Diversion Programme, whereby a person will be referred to the HSE for a health screening and brief intervention. 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.

I am committed to a health-led approach to drug use as set out in the national drugs strategy and the Programme for Government. I look forward to the commencement of the Health Diversion Programme. I believe that the learning to be derived from the programme will further inform the health-led approach to drug use over the remaining years of the national drugs strategy.