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25 June 2023 – The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use is concluding its third meeting in Malahide this weekend with a focus on the supports that are currently provided to people who use drugs, with repeated calls from speakers for a major improvement in the co-ordination, delivery, and resourcing of these services.

The 99 members of the Assembly and Chairperson Paul Reid, heard that people recovering from drugs use require a broad range of healthcare, housing, education and training, financial, and access to justice services and supports that are delivered by multiple different agencies and bodies.

Members were told that this situation often causes confusion, inconsistencies, and gaps in how these services are delivered that are detrimental to the recovery of the person receiving them. Contributors consistently urged members to consider making strong recommendations that address this co-ordination gap in the Assembly’s final report.

The Assembly has now reached the halfway point of its work programme and will meet again in early September to consider legislative and criminal justice issues relating to reducing the harmful impact of drugs use. Two further meetings will be held in the autumn to develop, discuss, and agree a final set of recommendations to be compiled into a report for Government by the end of this year.

Speaking about this weekend’s meeting, Assembly Chair Paul Reid thanked all members and speakers for their work and input to date and said that the information supplied this weekend demonstrated the urgent need for a step change in the national approach to drugs use.

My Reid commented, “Over the course of this weekend we have heard stark new statistics on the level of drugs deaths in Ireland from the Health Research Board, perspectives from Portugal and Austria on different national approaches to addressing drugs use, and today’s specific focus on recovery services. In each case, the need for changes in how we are doing things was clear.

“The challenge for the Assembly is to turn this evidence and these testimonies into a set of recommendations that will make a difference to the people, families, and communities who are impacted by drugs use, as well as making improvements to the systems through which we provide necessary treatments, required services, and wider supports.

“This is not easy. But it is the challenge that has been set for us by the Oireachtas. For that reason Assembly members will have the opportunity to reflect on all that they have heard over our first three meetings and return in September focussed on making recommendations that will make a real difference.”

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