Thursday, 1 April 2010
Dáil Eireann Debate
39. Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will report on the recent ministerial meeting of the British-Irish Council on the Misuse of Drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14234/10]
Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Pat Carey): The most recent Ministerial Meeting of the British-Irish Council (BIC) on the Misuse of Drugs was hosted on 24 February in the Isle of Man by their Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Adrian Earnshaw, MHK. The meeting was chaired by my colleague, Mr John Curran, T.D., then Minister of State with responsibility for the Drugs Strategy. I understand that the primary focus of the meeting related to issues facing BIC Administrations in addressing substance misuse in prisons and they looked at four main areas:
There was acceptance across all of the Administrations that there needs to be a real focus on preventing the supply of drugs to prisons, but that this needs to go hand in hand with the provision of drug treatment. Various initiatives in regard to supply reduction, and the outcomes arising, were outlined and discussed. There was agreement on the importance of providing a programme of treatment in the prison setting that is of equal standard to that offered in the community. The need to provide a seamless continuum of care from prison to the community was also stressed in view of the fact that those leaving prison can be at risk of overdose in the period immediately following their release.
The issue of new psychoactive substances (so-called “legal highs”) was also discussed at the meeting. Minister Curran outlined the concerns around head shops and the products they sell in Ireland and the approaches being considered in that regard. Other administrations also outlined their concerns and responses they are pursuing. The UK initiative of December 2009, which involved the classification of a number of substances under their Control of Drugs legislation, was noted. The Administrations agreed on the importance of consulting with the relevant authorities to ensure that any legitimate uses of the substances involved are not impinged upon as a result of the introduction of any regulations. Other standard agenda items were also dealt with and the 2010 Work Programme of the BIC Senior Officials Sectoral Group on the Misuse of Drugs was agreed.
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