Dáil Éireann - Volume 677 - 04 March, 2009
Written Answers. - National Drugs Strategy.
Deputy Michael Ring Deputy Michael Ring
Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the fact that the roll out of the new national drugs strategy will be postponed indefinitely in view of the current economic climate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8860/09]
Deputy Catherine Byrne Deputy Catherine Byrne
 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the role of local and regional drugs task forces; if this role will change under the new national drug strategy; if the number of drugs task forces will change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8851/09]
Deputy John Curran Deputy John Curran
Deputy John Curran: I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 62 together.
At the outset, I want to assure the Deputies that the roll-out of the new National Drugs Strategy (NDS) will not be postponed.
Work is ongoing on the formulation of the Strategy for the period 2009-2016. As the Deputies are aware, a Steering Group, comprising representatives of the statutory, community and voluntary sectors, is currently developing proposals in this regard and I expect to receive their recommendations by the end of March. Once I have considered them, I will be seeking Government approval for the new Strategy in April, with publication to follow as quickly as possible thereafter.
Much has changed since the current Strategy was developed and it is important that we develop a new Strategy to best address problem drug use in our country as it currently manifests itself. Like any area of public spending, we will have to implement our policies to tackle the drugs problem within the financial parameters we face in any given year. In the current economic climate, the challenge of utilising our resources effectively is even more relevant. Furthermore, it is important to note that the new Strategy will cover a period of eight years and the economic circumstances can fluctuate considerably over such a period.
The role of the 14 Local and 10 Regional Drugs Task Forces is to assess the nature and extent of the illicit drug problems in their areas of operation, to make proposals to deal with these problems, to facilitate greater local/regional focus on drugs issues and a more co-ordinated response to them and to oversee and monitor drug-related projects approved on foot of their action plans and proposals.
While the Steering Group, as part of its work, is currently considering proposals in regard to the structures to support the new Drugs Strategy, I do not envisage any substantial change to the role of the Drugs Task Forces. I have already indicated publicly that I do not expect any change in the number of Task Forces.
Dáil Éireann 677 Written Answers. National Drugs Strategy.