This week we caught up with Grace Hill, co-ordinator with Tallaght Drug and Alcohol Force to find out what the group is working on at present and how the local community can help them.
We are busy working away on a number of projects and thought we’d take this opportunity to update you on some aspects of our work:
TDATF is asking people once again to use the Crimestoppers line to report any incidents of drug dealing and / or drug related crime, including intimidation. Ph. 1800 25 00 25
If you have any information, however small, on drug dealing or related crime, please make the call! – It’s completely safe and confidential. Together we can help make our communities safer and a happier place to live in.
The new National Drug & Alcohol Strategy is now complete and will be officially launched in July. Entitled “Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery – A health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland, 2017-2025”, we are happy to see Alcohol has been included in the title and content of the plan, having made several representations for it to be included.
As a Task Force we agreed to take alcohol into our remit and title in 2014 and we have remained committed to that work since.
We are currently continuing to implement our Community Action on Alcohol plan and our Alcohol Development worker Fiona Murphy is currently busy planning activities to tie in with SDCC Health & Wellbeing week in September.
We have also recently launched a new alcohol awareness video which is a short video made by the students of Tallaght ITT on behalf of TDATF.
The video highlights how alcohol impacts on the lives of students over the course of a week and gives some food for thought on how alcohol may be affecting your life.
Ireland has been viewed as a binge drinking nation but do you know what binge drinking is? Do you know what a standard measure is?
Do you know what a low risk guideline amount is? Thinking about your own drinking – do you stay within the low risk guidelines?
More information can be found here http://alcoholireland.ie/alcohol-and-you/guidelines/
Our video is up on our Facebook page and here is the link to view it on You Tube: https://youtu.be/pcRmJt_UvDc
Our Task Force met recently and reviewed the contents of the Controlled Drugs and Harm Reduction Bill 2017 and its explanatory note.
We understand the Bill has been postponed pending the publication of the new National Drugs Strategy in mid July.
While we appreciate what the Bill is aiming to achieve in relation to reducing the unnecessary stigma, shame and barriers often experienced by drug mis-users, we are ultimately opposed to the Bill due to a number of outstanding concerns that we have:
• Young People: A huge amount of young people in our area (Tallaght & Whitechurch) are involved in drug use and / or dealing, we feel that decriminalising the possession of drugs, albeit for “personal use”, would send a confusing message to this very impressionable and vulnerable target group.
• Legalising Cannabis: We fear that the passing of this Bill could help to progress the development of a similar Bill on the legalisation of Cannabis
• Probation Services: Very often service users are referred to our community drug projects by the Probation Services; we feel that the passing of this Bill would prevent the possibility of the Justice system being a catalyst for change.
• Drug Dissuasion Service: We acknowledge that the proposed Drug Dissuasion Service and its role seems well thought out and intentioned, in theory. The reality as we know it on the ground however is that drug and alcohol services are severely under resourced, having suffered a raft of cumulative budget reductions 2008-2013.
• Caution: An Garda Síochana activate an Adult Caution Policy where necessary in the instance of a first offence, perhaps this could be adopted for use where possession for personal use occurs, as an alternative to decriminalising.
• Education & Prevention: Education and awareness in relation to drugs and their effects is step 1in creating healthier, safer, more resilient communities. Cumulative budget reductions have significantly threatened initiatives under this heading and are continuing to do so today. Additional resources are required for young people, in the areas of treatment of under 18’s and targeted Education / Prevention programmes both in schools and in the community.
• Lack of balance: It is now illegal to smoke tobacco in places of work and most public spaces. What message are we sending to people when smoking is frowned upon in this country (and a huge budget set aside for national awareness of the harms caused by smoking), but the possession of illegal drugs for personal use is okay. For us, this is not okay!
• Drug Dealing: Open drug dealing has become a regular occurrence right across our communities and drug dealers continue to target vulnerable individuals, including young people. We are not satisfied that this Bill poses no risk of ambiguity in relation to what is deemed as “personal use”, or that the terms of the Bill cannot be manipulated to assist the drug trade and related crime locally.
Overall, we feel the Bill is well written but the full extent of potential consequences for communities, should it be passed, have not been thought out.
For information on drugs and their effects go to: www.drugs.ie
For more information on any aspects of the work of TDATF, please feel free to contact us.
Eamon Dolan, Chairperson
Grace Hill, Co-ordinator
Tallaght Drug & Alcohol Task Force
South Dublin County Partnership
Block 3, County Hall
Belgard Square North
Tallaght, Dublin 24.
Ph. 01 464 9303