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Approval for committee to consider drug use report


The Cabinet has approved the establishment of a special Oireachtas committee to consider the Citizens’ Assembly report on drug use.

The proposal was brought forward by Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being, and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton, who predicted it will be up and running by “March or April”.

She said it would take a number of stages before Oireachtas approval would be finalised.

Speaking in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Independent TDs will choose the chair of the committee.

Mr Varadkar said the committee will have 14 members and will be up and running “no later than April”.

The committee will have seven months to carry out its work, but can finish earlier, Mr Varadkar said, bearing in mind that witnesses have already appeared before the assembly and do not necessarily have to be called again.

However, he added: “That’s their call, not ours”.

Labour Party TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said it is still possible for any legislation recommended by the Committee to be passed by this Dáil – if it is made a priority by the Govermnment.

He said the special Oireachtas committee should sit through the summer to ensure the goal is achieved.

The final report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use was published in January and included 36 recommendations.

Among the measures was a call for Government to provide leadership and accountability at the highest political level to address the use of drugs in Ireland, including a dedicated Cabinet committee chaired by the Taoiseach.

The report recommended that the State pivot to a comprehensive health-led response to drugs use, rather than using the criminal justice system.

The recommendations have significant implications on how the statutory, community and voluntary organisations, which work across the health and criminal justice systems, are organised, funded and coordinated.


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