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The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use returns for its fourth meeting this weekend – over halfway through work programme

The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use will hold its fourth meeting this weekend, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September, in The Grand Hotel, Malahide. This brings the Assembly past the half-way mark in its work programme.

This next meeting switches the Assembly’s focus onto the criminal justice system and the legal framework governing drugs in Ireland. During the meeting, the 99 members and independent Chair, Paul Reid will hear from a range of legal and policy experts, practitioners, advocates and people with lived experience of the criminal justice system.

Sunday’s session will include a workshop featuring advocates and legal experts. Members will evaluate possible courses of action regarding Ireland’s legislative approach to drugs.

To date, the Assembly has focussed on what changes might be required in terms of policy and practice in the health, community and voluntary sectors. Members have heard from professionals and volunteers working in these sectors, as well as academics and policy experts from Ireland and internationally. Importantly, they have also heard from people with lived experience of drugs use and their families, as well as service users.

Commenting ahead of the meeting, Chair of the Assembly Paul Reid said: “This next meeting is an opportunity to look at several issues central to the Terms of Reference, including supply reduction, the role of the criminal justice system and the legal approach to drugs in Ireland.

“These are complex and multifaceted issues that require careful deliberation. There are no easy solutions, which is why the Citizens’ Assembly process is so useful. By engaging with legal and policy experts, by listening to the perspectives of practitioners and by hearing from people with lived experience, the Assembly will better understand the effect of current policies and approaches.

“Throughout its work, the Citizens’ Assembly has carefully considered the stories and lived experiences of the people, families, and communities who have been most impacted by illicit drugs use, and these stories will continue to remain central to our perspective.

“It is imperative that our recommendations to the Oireachtas are thorough and based on all available information. I am confident in the progress of the Assembly’s work and the range of perspectives and experiences we are hearing about. I want to thank to members for their dedication and service to this challenge work.

“I also want to thank everyone who has made a submission to the Assembly’s public consultation process. The submissions have been shared with members and are actively informing the Assembly’s work. We appreciate the time and effort taken by all who made submissions to the Assembly.”

You are invited to send a representative to the next meeting. 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.


For more info contact Q4 Public Relations, Lorna Gardiner 086 076 1374 / Sabrina D’Angelo 086 032 3397

The draft running order for the meeting is:

Saturday, 2nd September 2023 – Grand Hotel, Malahide

9:30am Supply-side issues

Michael O’Sullivan, former Executive Director of MAOC-N (Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre, Narcotics)

Andrew Cunningham, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)

Seamus Boland, Detective Chief Superintendent, Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau

Dr. Sean Redmond, Adjunct Professor in Youth Justice, School of Law, University of Limerick

Siobhan Maher, DRIVE Coordinator

11:10am Courts

Therapeutic Jurisprudence- Judge Ann Ryan, retired District Court Judge

Case Study of the Drugs Treatment Court: Maeve Foley and Fiona Carolan

Lived experience perspectives

13:45pm Prisons

Dr. Caron McCaffrey, Director General, Irish Prison Service

Fergal Black, Director of Care and Rehabilitation, Irish Prison Service

Sheila Connolly CEO, Cork Alliance Centre

Aisling Golden. Solas and Compass Prison Programme

Lived experience perspectives

15:30pm Pathways and Options

Justin Kelly- Assistant Commissioner, An Garda Síochána

Tony Duffin- Chair of the National Drugs Strategy Strategic Implementation Group on Alternatives to Coercive Sanctions for drug-related offences

Mark Wilson- Director, the Probation Service


Sunday, 3rd September 2023 – Grand Hotel, Malahide

9am Stakeholder Perspective

Eddie D’Arcy, Youth Workers Against Prohibition

Prof. Anne Doherty, College of Psychiatrists of Ireland

Graham Temple, Crainn

Prof. Bobby Smyth, Cannabis Risk Alliance

10:15 – 12:15 Exploring Legal Frameworks

Brendan Hughes, EMCDDA

Prof. Tom O’Malley, Galway University

Dr. James Windle, UCC

Prof. Yvonne Daly, DCU

Prof. Andrew Percy, QUB

Prof. Deirdre Healy, UCD

Prof. John Garry, QUB and Advisory Support Group

12:45 Chair’s closing remarks