Labour loses confidence in Government to deliver Citizens’ Assembly on drugs

21 February 2022

Labour TD for Dublin Bay North Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has today (Monday, 21st February) sharply criticised the Government for refusing to commit to a Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs until at least next year.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“Less than two short weeks ago (Wednesday, 9th February) I asked the Taoiseach if there were any concrete plans to have a Citizens’ Assembly on drugs. He gave a firm commitment that one would take place later this year. However, the Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, has alerted the media that no such assembly will take place until at least next year.

“This is beyond frustrating. People are dying, apparently their lives aren’t worth enough to act. If cattle were dying at the same rate as people are dying from drug overdoses, there would have been a citizens’ assembly on it yesterday. This delay shows the lack of urgency, the lack of care, the lack of compassion of the Government. If Dublin doesn’t have a directly elected mayor in five years, no one will die. This delay is costing lives.

“We have lost patience and confidence in the Minister. He is now clearly part of the problem. We have waited 18 months for him to step up and do something and he isn’t doing it. The reality is that people, in every community, are dying while the Government sits on their hands. It is completely unacceptable.”

He added: “A Citizens’ Assembly would mark the start of a process to deal with drug addiction as a health issue. The issue of de-criminalisation of the person must be at the forefront of their agenda. Government can save lives here by kick-starting a process of convening a Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs immediately.”

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