Policy Reform Activity in the Principal Chamber of Ireland's Parliament, The Dáil
"Established in June 2011 by the new coalition government, the Joint Committee on Health and Children in the 31st Dáil decided that an early priority would be to consider the issues surrounding the misuse of alcohol and other drugs. In the course of its discussion on the misuse of drugs, committee members asked whether it was time to consider the drug policy options preferred by Portugal and the Netherlands, i.e. eliminate criminal sanctions for illicit drug users (Dowds 2011, 22 September), and whether it was time to consider allowing people with a complete physical and chemical dependence on heroin or morphine to get their heroin or morphine in well-supervised, clean, incorruptible circumstances, i.e. establish safe injecting facilities (Crown 2011, 15 September).
"In January 2012 the Joint Committee on Health and Children published its conclusions in a report on the misuse of alcohol and drugs (Joint Committee on Health Children 2012). The committee’s overarching aim was to highlight the prevalence of alcohol and other drugs in society and to emphasise the misuse of alcohol in particular. The report was based primarily on published research on the issue of alcohol and drug misuse, submissions made to the committee by stakeholders (including some 20 or so groups from the statutory and voluntary sectors), and transcripts of the committee’s discussions.
"The Joint Committee formed the opinion that no single measure will solve the problem of alcohol use and that a package of measures is needed to change attitudes, as well as behaviours, regarding the consumption of alcohol. With regard to the misuse of illicit drugs, the committee made recommendations with regard to the following aspects:
" Supply reduction: In light of the spread of grow houses in Ireland, legislation is needed criminalising the importation of cannabis seeds. Stricter controls are needed in relation to the importation and prescription of benzodiazepines.
" Prevention and education: The government should consider how a programme of new, preventative, educational initiatives, aimed at the general public, could be devised to highlight the implications and dangers of alcohol and drug misuse, and to influence prevailing cultural attitudes, particularly with regard to the use of alcohol.
" Treatment and rehabilitation: There should be renewed emphasis on the implementation by the HSE of the four-tier model, and more resources should be allocated to drug rehabilitation services, to significantly increase the number of dedicated inpatient detoxification beds, and to reduce waiting times to access drug services across the country."
Irish Focal Point (2012) "2012 National Report (2011 data) to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point." Ireland: new developments, trends and in-depth information on selected issues. Dublin: Health Research Board, p. 29.