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29th September 2023 – The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use will hold its fifth and penultimate meeting this weekend, Saturday 30th September and Sunday 1st October, in The Grand Hotel, Malahide.

Focussing primarily on drugs prevention strategies and practice, the meeting will be the final opportunity for members to discuss the substantive issues under consideration prior to voting on recommendations at the sixth and final Assembly meeting at the end of October.

A range of speakers including Chief Medical Officer Prof. Breda Smyth, former Dublin football manager Jim Gavin, and social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, will share their perspectives on drugs prevention ranging from early childhood education to tertiary prevention initiatives. Sunday’s session will also include presentations on health-led recovery, governance, and funding options.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s meeting, the Chairman of the Assembly, Paul Reid, highlighted the extensive work that has been done to date, and said he looked forward to this weekend’s further discussions before next month’s meeting to agree recommendations.

Mr Reid commented, “In just under six months the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use has covered a wide range of topics, heard from many different voices and perspectives, and received almost 800 submissions from the public regarding the issue of drugs use. This weekend’s meeting will round-off those discussions with a focus on prevention measures that are crucial in how we approach the issue of limiting the harm caused by drugs.

“Drugs use is a complex issue. Prevention is therefore a crucial part on how we approach the entire issue and it is important that members have the opportunity to hear from all those working in the area including policymakers, academics, service providers and prevention specialists.

“Following this meeting, members will begin to agree the final ballot paper that they will be asked to vote on at our next and concluding meeting at the end of October. Thise recommendations will be the substance of the final report that the Assembly will present to Government and the Oireachtas by the end of the year.

“I look forward to this weekend and wish to thank all members and speakers for their participation in what is extremely vital and important work.”


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, 30th September 2023 – Grand Hotel, Malahide

9:15am Perspectives on Prevention I

Gregor Burkhart, Principal scientific analyst (Prevention), EMCDDA

Karen O’Connor and Richie Stafford, Department of Health

Celeste O’Callaghan, Department of Education

Dr. Michael Byrne, Head of Student Health Services, UCC

11:15am Perspectives on Prevention II

Prof. Breda Smyth, Chief Medical Officer

Prof. Catherine Comiskey, Trinity College Dublin

Prof. Mary Cannon, Consultant psychiatrist

Prof. Denis Cusack, Director, Medical Bureau of Road Safety

14:00pm Case Studies on Prevention

Roger Mehta, Addiction Counsellor and Psychotherapist

Dr. Ian Marder, Maynooth University

Judge Olann Kelleher, Joe Kirby (HSE), and Declan O’Riordan (Coolmine)

Nicola Corrigan, HSE National Social Inclusion Office

15:45pm Tertiary Prevention

Fr. Peter McVerry

Andy O’Hara, UISCE

Fiona Ward, Department of Social Protection

Jim Gavin, NEIC


Sunday, 1st October 2023 – Grand Hotel, Malahide

9am Resilience & Wellbeing

Professor Patrick Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth & Civic Engagement, University of Galway

Laura Dunleavy, Kinship Care Ireland

Aubrey McCarthy, Co-founder and Chairman, Tiglin

11:05am Governance & Funding Options

Jim Walsh, Department of Health

Brian Galvin, Health Research Board

Dr. Peter Kelly, TCD School of Nursing

Joe O’Neill, Western Region Drug and Alcohol Task Force

Dr. Orlaigh Quinn

12:50 Case Study

Clondalkin Drug and Alcohol Task Force Prevention and Education Initiative

13:00pm Chair’s closing remarks