Wednesday, 26 March 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
109. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the promised regional drugs task forces will be set up; the locations such task forces have been established; the number that have met to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8328/03]
131. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress his Department has made to date on the setting up of the regional drugs task forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8386/03]
160. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when it is intended to establish the early warning system, involving all key agencies, to track the potential spread of heroin into new areas in regard to the commitment given in An Agreed Programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8320/03]
164. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the use of heroin is spreading rapidly outside of Dublin; the measures he intends to take to combat this trend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8329/03]
Under the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008, ten regional drugs task forces (RDTFs) are being set up in the ten health board regions throughout the country. A list of the regions and their administrative headquarters follows.
The RDTFs will represent a team-based response to illicit drug use. Each task force will be chaired by an independent chairperson and will be made up of nominees from state agencies working in the region, the community and voluntary sector and elected public representatives. The RDTF members will work in partnership, in a manner similar to the local drugs task forces.
The existing regional drug co-ordinators will act as interim co-ordinators for the RDTFs. Given their knowledge and experience of the local drug problem and their relationship with local agencies and groups, the co-ordinators will greatly facilitate the setting up and initial development of the task forces.
The national drugs strategy team is overseeing the establishment of the RDTFs and has prepared guidelines for their operation in consultation with the relevant sectors and agencies. The team met the interim co-ordinators in January and again in late February to discuss the guidelines and to exchange information and experience. The aim is to convene the first meeting of each task force shortly after Easter.
With regard to the establishment of an early warning system to track the potential spread of heroin into new areas, my officials have held discussions with a range of Departments and agencies involved in tackling drug misuse. Arising from these discussions, it is planned that the early warning sub-committee of the national advisory committee on drugs, which contains membership from a range of relevant Departments and agencies, including my Department, will fulfil the role outlined in the programme for Government. The sub-committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow and at that meeting it will consider how best to put the system in place.
While heroin misuse remains predominantly a Dublin problem, I am aware that the problem has begun to emerge in a number of provincial centres. I am also aware that drug misuse – in many different forms – is occurring throughout the country. The Deputies should note that the regional drugs task forces will have a key role to play in this area as they will have responsibility for identifying the nature and extent of the drug problem in their regions and for putting strategies in place to combat drug misuse. Current Health Boards Regions and Administrative Headquarters
|Midland Health Board||Headquarters – Tullamore|
|Mid-Western Health Board||Headquarters – Limerick City|
|North-Eastern Health Board||Headquarters – Kells|
|North-Western Health Board||Headquarters – Manorhamilton|
|South-Eastern Health Board||Headquarters – Kilkenny City|
|Southern Health Board||Headquarters – Cork City|
|Western Health Board||Headquarters – Galway City|
|South-Western Area Health Authority||Headquarters – Naas|
|Northern Area Health Authority||Headquarters – Swords|
|East Coast Area Health Authority||Headquarters – Bray|
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