Sinn Féin Councillor and Chairperson of Louth Drug and Alcohol Forum, Ruairí Ó Murchú, has written to the Minister of State for Drugs, Catherine Byrne, to request a meeting with her and also with the Ministers for Health and Justice.
Councillor Ó Murchú said,
“Across Louth there are a huge number of families and individuals whose lives are being destroyed by drugs.
“At the last meeting of Louth Drug and Alcohol Forum a number of associated groups stated serious shortfalls in funding and that this is having a negative impact on service delivery. Forum members decided that we need to meet with the Minister to put these points directly to her.
“At a meeting of the North East Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, I learned that in 2007 funding was approximately €1.4 million. In the past year only €900,000 was allocated. This is despite an exponential growth in demand for these services, coupled with increases in rent and other operational costs.
“I have written to the Minister of State Catherine Byrne, to outline how any further reduction in addiction services will have severe negative impacts on communities across Louth.
“The prevalence of drugs in our communities is at a higher level than ever before, however government policy and funding has not kept pace with the needs of addiction services.
“At a recent Joint Policing Committee meeting in Dundalk, the Garda Chief Superintendent for Louth Christopher Mangan, stated that there is a decreasing government focus on demand reduction and a severe lack of drug treatment rehabilitation services for people who want to kick their addictions.
“In Louth we have a very successful drugs court in operation. However a key component of its success is the availability of services to those who come before this court.
“The inability of service providers to deliver services will have a hugely negative impact on communities in terms of crime levels, antisocial behaviour and intimidation by drugs gangs.
“A recent report from the EU Drugs Agency and Europol found that violence and intimidation by drug gangs has severely affected communities in Ireland and had major impacts on individuals, families, communities and the functioning of local services and agencies.
“It is not enough for the Government to register huge concern when report after report indicates that this is a worsening problem. It is time that serious focus and resources were allocated to counteract the vast resources of the drugs gangs.
“On behalf of Louth Drug and Alcohol Forum I have written to the Minister to request that she provide a date to meet with me and the other members of the Forum and I hope that the Minister will respond positively and that we can make the case for additional funding for groups across Louth involved in this essential work.”