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14 May 2023 – The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use has concluded its second formal meeting in Dublin Castle, following site visits to treatment centres in Coolmine in Blanchardstown and Merchant’s Quay Ireland earlier today. The visits were arranged to provide members the opportunity to meet and discuss with staff and service users about the lived experience of drugs use.

The second meeting of the Assembly focussed on the experiences of individuals, families, front-line workers, and the impact of drugs use on the communities that they live in. Today’s site visits followed a series of panel discussions on these themes that included over 20 people telling their own experiences of the impact of drugs use on their lives, their families, their work, and the places where they live.

The 99 members and Independent Chair, Paul Reid, will meet again in mid-June at the Grand Hotel in Malahide where they will consider how the health system deals with drugs use, and will also contain a range of contributions from representatives from the community sector.

Speaking at the close of this weekend’s meeting, Chair Paul Reid, said that it had been designed to allow people to tell and Assembly members to hear the stories behind drugs use. He said this was a crucial part of meeting the Assembly’s Terms of Reference that ask it to consider the harmful impacts of drugs use on individuals, families, communities and wider society.

Mr Reid commented, “Today’s visits to Coolmine Treatment Centre and Merchant’s Quay Ireland where members met with staff and service users were humbling and eye-opening experiences. We heard the stories behind drugs use from those who have lived through it. We saw the supports they are given and that they need to rebuild their lives following drugs use.  We saw the vital work done by the staff working with people who use drugs, and their commitment to helping them lead productive lives.

“This was a unique and special weekend and one that will help the Assembly consider what additional supports and services are required when we come to make our recommendations at the end of this year.

“I want to thank all contributors and the members for the time they have given to our work over the last two days. We are continuing to develop our programme for future meetings and look forward to a wide-ranging discussion on the health system and the community sector when we meet again in mid-June.”

You can watch the live-stream videos from the weekend meeting below.