Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs must be held in before summer 2023
- Labour Motion debated in November put decriminalisation of drug users at the centre of this
- Government must act on introduction of mobile injecting centres
Labour justice spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is demanding that Government set a date for the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs before summer 2023.
Expressing his delight that the recent Labour Party motion on decriminalising drug users has inspired some in Fianna Fáil to call for a change in tack when it comes to drug policy, Deputy Ó Ríordáin called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to set a date without further delay.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
“It is great to see the impact that the recent Labour motion on decriminalising drug users is having across all parties in the Oireachtas. Our motion urged government to set a date for the Citizens’ Assembly on drugs to rid Ireland of the archaic approach we currently have towards drug users.
“It’s time for a health led approach to drugs with due regard to the social and economic consequences of drug use. If done correctly, we can provide harm reduction services to address disease transmission and overdoses, as has been done in Portugal, and drastically decrease harmful drug use across the population.
“The Citizens’ Assembly is the best vehicle for this change. We have seen the benefits of bringing all voices into the room on issues like marriage equality, abortion rights and more recently on biodiversity.
“I would urge backbench Fianna Fáil TDs to remind their Government colleagues of the other key element of Labour’s motion – emergency legislation to facilitate mobile supervised injection facilities in urban and rural sites.
“Drug injection centres, the world over, are an attempt to put humanity back at the heart of drug policy. More lives will be lost without injection centres and there is no real sense of urgency to protect vulnerable drug users. It is not acceptable.
“Injecting centres save lives. They prevent fatal overdoses. They prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C and while we accept that mobile injection centres are not perfect, their introduction even on a temporary measure basis would be worthwhile. The Minister has the power to make it happen, now he must get on with it.
“Those who need these services deserve humane and compassionate treatment. Those who are crippled by addiction deserve the care and compassion of this state, and not to be forced through the criminal justice system. We need to approach drug policy with pragmatism, not moralism. We need to move beyond the moralisation of drugs and to get sensible about drug policy. We need to protect vulnerable users. We now need urgent action from the government to help save peoples lives.”