Wednesday, 14 June 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
46. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the working group established to develop an integrated rehabilitation service as part of the fifth pillar of the national drugs strategy has finalised its recommendations and reported to the interdepartmental group on drugs and to the Cabinet committee on social inclusion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22745/06]
Mr. N. Ahern: The working group on rehabilitation was established in September 2005 and includes representatives from a range of Departments and agencies involved in delivering rehabilitation services, as well as representatives from the national drugs strategy team, NDST, the national advisory committee on drugs, NACD, and the community and voluntary sectors. The terms of reference of the group include examining the current provision of rehabilitation services in Ireland and recommending actions to develop an integrated rehabilitation service for the future.
The development of comprehensive rehabilitation services is a complex process due in no small part to the fact that problem drug use is a chronic, often recurring, condition. As a result, rehabilitation necessarily involves the provision of services that support and encourage drug users at each stage of their drug use, from those whose problem is severe and chaotic to those who may have recovered, have been stabilised or, unfortunately, may have relapsed. At each stage the door must be kept open to enable those dealing with the problem of drug misuse to re-engage with treatment and rehabilitation services.
Services that may contribute to the rehabilitation of drug misusers of necessity may come from a wide variety of sources and agencies. The health services provide aspects of ongoing treatment, counselling and therapeutic services. Educational and training agencies focus on the provision of educational, training and job search needs and community and voluntary organisations provide services under the local and regional drugs task force programmes which provide a wide range of supports.
Mr. O’Shea: I thank the Minister of State for that reply. However, I remind him of his reply of 16 May to a similar question in which he stated: “It is envisaged that the recommendations will be finalised by mid-year and that the group will report to the interdepartmental group on drugs and the Cabinet committee on social inclusion”. Can I take it that this date was a bit optimistic? Given that we have hit mid-year, will the recommendations be with the interdepartmental group and the Cabinet committee on social inclusion before the summer recess?
Mr. N. Ahern: Certainly, it appears that our projections were a bit optimistic. The group is continuing its work which has proven to be a bigger job than originally expected. I am informed that the recommendations will be finalised in the coming months. Much work has been done. The group has probably gone into the matter in far more detail than was expected and it has had a great deal of consultation with interested parties. The job has proven to be a bigger one than was originally expected and I am not sure whether the recommendations will be through the entire system by the summer.
Mr. Crowe: Is part of the problem that there was no representative on the working group from the health sector, the Department or the HSE? Is the Minister of State aware of this fact? This may be one of the difficulties that is delaying the implementation of the recommendations.
Mr. N. Ahern: It may be the case that too many people are involved. The group is chaired by my Department and it includes representatives from the Departments of Health and Children, Education and Science, the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and Justice, Equality and Law Reform as well as representatives from the national drugs strategy team, the national advisory committee on drugs, FÁS, the HSE and the community and voluntary sector. Both the Department of Health and Children and the HSE are involved. The job is a big one and while I will not say the group has got into it too deeply, the process has taken longer than expected.
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