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24 June 2023 – The Chairperson of the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use, Paul Reid, has said that stark new statistics from the Health Research Board published at today’s third meeting of the Assembly in Malahide showing that there were over 400 drugs related deaths in Ireland in 2020 are a wake-up call for the country.

Mr Reid said that more than one person dies every day in Ireland directly due to drugs use further reinforcing Ireland’s status as having one of the highest per capita rates of drugs deaths in Europe. He said such statistics are a strong reminder to Assembly members of the urgent need to produce meaningful and effective recommendations that will help reduce the devastating harm caused by illicit drugs use.

Mr Reid was speaking following a presentation by Dr Suzi Lyons of the Health Research Board to Assembly members at this morning’s meeting that is considering health-led approaches and policies in regard to drugs use. The meeting is also hearing from health experts from Portugal and Austria on the specific national policy approaches towards drugs use that have been adopted in these countries.

Speaking about the presentation from the Health Research Board, Mr Reid highlighted the range of drugs that are involved in these deaths that are not confined to one particular source and that the statistics demonstrated both the importance of the Assembly and the need for real change.

Mr Reid commented, “The HRB statistics show that it is not only heroin that is a key factor in these deaths but also methadone, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, benzodiazepines and other prescription drugs. Poly-drug use is clearly a huge part of the problem, and dual diagnosis seems to feature in half of the deaths.

“This is all grim news. When the problem is shifting rapidly we need equivalent change in our approach to national policy and delivery of necessary services.

“For that reason, this weekend the Assembly is focussing potential solutions. We’re also hearing case studies of good practice from Ireland and abroad. But we need to remain focused on the key questions: what is working, what is not working, and what could work to make a significant difference. Finding the answers to those questions will be central to our work from now and will be the key part of our recommendations in the Assembly’s final report.”

The Assembly is continuing to meet through Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning:


Saturday, 24 June 2023 – Grand Hotel, Malahide

2pm Targeted Harm Reduction – Tony Duffin, Ana Liffey Project,; Catherine Kenny, Dublin Simon; Nicki Killeen, HSE

Roundtable discussion and Q&A

3.45pm Treatment – Dr Anne Marie Carew, HRB; Dr Sean Foy, Psychologist; Dr Ide Delargy, GP; Dr Gerry McCarney,

Roundtable discussion and Q&A

5.15pm Conclusion



Sunday, 25 June 2023

9am Recovery – Prof Jo-Hanna Ivers, followed by panel discussion chaired by Dearbhail McDonald

Panellists: Noel Murphy, Claire Naughton

Roundtable discussion and Q&A

11am Innovative supports for young people – Panel discussion chaired by Dearbhail McDonald

Panellists: Anna Quigley, Breda Fell, Dr Austin O’Carroll

Roundtable discussion and Q&A

12pm Plenary Session and feedback from members
1pm Conclusion


All proceedings will be available to view live at Members of the media seeking media interviews or to attend the session are requested to contact Q4 Public Relations via the details below.


Ends – For more info contact Q4 Public Relations, Lorna Gardiner 086 076 1374 / Ronan Farren 087 934 0386