Citizens’ assembly on drug use to take place this year

Citizens' assembly on drug use to take place this year

A citizens’ assembly on drug use will take place in “the latter part of this year”, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Mr Martin was pressed on the timetable for the citizens’ assembly, promised in the programme for government, in the Dáil yesterday by Holly Cairns, the Social Democrats TD for Cork South-West.

She said: “It is an incredibly important issue that requires reform. We must take a holistic approach in tackling the issue of drugs in Ireland. Addiction requires a health-based approach, and the focus should be on harm reduction and prevention and, ultimately, saving lives.

“Best practice, such as the Portuguese model, suggests that decriminalising possession of small amounts for personal use is very effective.”

The Taoiseach said a number of commitments to host citizens’ assemblies were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As regards drugs policy, it is our view that we will have a citizens’ assembly in the latter part of this year,” he said. “However, that does not mean there is nothing happening with drugs policy.

“It is an urgent and serious issue that has to be dealt with in the context of a community-up approach, with multidisciplinary supports going into the communities most affected, along with a health-based approach. In any event, we are very seized of the serious situation in many communities as a result of drug abuse.”

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