Historic opportunity to reform drug policy

25 January 2024

Labour’s justice spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called for the Special Oireachtas Committee on Drugs to be convened immediately to finally address Ireland’s failed drug policy.

Speaking following the publication of the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug’s report, Deputy Ó Ríordáin said this is an opportunity to change people’s lives.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“For too long the political class have buried their heads in the sand when it comes to drugs, seeing those who experience problems with drugs and substance abuse as less worthy for care.

“There’s an opportunity here to finally protect vulnerable drug users and wake up to the reality of drug use in Ireland.

“In November 2022 the Labour Party put forward a motion in the Dáil calling for a humane, compassionate approach to be taken on drugs. The Citizens’ Assembly report confirms that this is where people are at, it’s the change they want to see.

“Decriminalising drug users and supporting people to recover from addiction will be life changing for so many people and their families throughout the country.

“To address the marginalisation of drug users, Labour has long campaigned for a health led, not criminal led, approach to drug use. We again today urge Government to do the right thing and move to decriminalise drug users.

“Despite the ample evidence suggesting that giving someone a criminal record for possession of drugs for personal use is an ineffective way to get them to stop using, in Ireland, you can be jailed for up to seven years for possession of an illicit drug for personal use. The criminal record itself, which can result in barriers to employment, travel, and relationships, can end up doing more harm to the individual than their drug use.

“It’s time to stop this and give people a chance.

“Fine Gael have been opposed to this compassionate approach, continuing to falsely equate solving the issue of drug use through criminal sanction. Well they’re wrong. It’s a failed policy approach that is destroying communities nationwide.

“A health-led approach means treating people with respect and dignity, and providing them with the support and services they need. Only through taking a community led, health based approach can we offer a real solution to drug addiction that continues to cripple communities nationwide.”

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