Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 17 November, 2004

Written Answers. - National Drugs Strategy.

  349. Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the Government policy regarding the ongoing support and future development of a community-based response to the growing drugs crisis; his views on whether the various health boards are working to complement that policy; if salaries of community persons working in the sector are covered under the national pay agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29035/04]

  Mr. N. Ahern: The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the national drugs strategy. In addition, it has responsibility for the work of the 14 local drugs task forces as well as the young people’s facilities and services fund. The role of the local drugs task forces is to prepare local action plans, including a range of measures in the areas of treatment, education, prevention and curbing local supply, etc. In addition, the local drugs task forces provide a mechanism for the co-ordination of services in these areas, while allowing local communities and voluntary organisations to participate in the planning, design and delivery of those services. The local drugs task forces are designed to complement the extensive range of interventions being delivered through the State agencies.

The local drugs task forces are a vital and important part of the Government’s overall response to tackling drug misuse and will continue to be so in the future. The then regional drugs task forces, set up throughout the country, are modelled on the local drugs task force approach. In terms of ongoing support, over €80 million has been allocated or spent to date to implement the various projects contained in the two rounds of plans of the local drugs task forces. A further €12.8 million has been allocated to [1186] approximately 50 projects under the local drugs task force premises initiative and approximately €75 million has been allocated or spent under the two rounds of the young people’s facilities and services fund, primarily in local drugs task force areas. I am satisfied that the services provided by statutory agencies, such as the health boards, and the initiatives being funded through the local drugs task forces and the young people’s facilities and services fund complement each other. When taken as a whole, I believe that they offer a comprehensive response to tackling the drugs issue in communities. Provision for national pay agreement awards will continue to be made in the annual allocations made by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to drugs programmes.