Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal and Chairperson for the North Dublin Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, Darragh O’Brien has said Government need to step up to the times and acknowledge that drug and alcohol use poses danger to communities without properly funded taskforces in operation.
The Deputy raised the matter in Dáil Éireann last week and said, “The services provided by the small team working as part of Fingal’s Regional Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce have a real impact on the ground. Sadly however, with limited resources in a catchment area that captures roughly 300,000 people, it can be often difficult for this team to treat every single person that has sought their support.
“North County Dublin happens to be the youngest region in the country with a population size that only continues to rise. This has been flagged time and time again yet the taskforce are only resourced enough to have just one counsellor in place to see under 18 year old’s. As the latest stats show a huge number of young families have made Fingal their home in recent years but there is only funding to employ one family support worker.
“When I and my Fianna Fáil colleagues raised concerns regarding funding we were assured that an additional €1million would be added but when divided among the 23 other taskforces that provides us with some €41,000. As Chair I can confidently say that this funding will be used well but one off paltry sums are no way to support a regional team operate all year round. It needs streamlined, core funding that is increased multi-annually to function properly.
“Expecting a team to be able to lessen the adverse impact caused by drugs and alcohol on a community of some 300,000 and quickly expanding with just €777,000 is an unreasonable ask.
“A taskforce style structure with qualified, trained and educated people employed to provide services in a community based setting and under the auspices of the HSE can achieve so much more when adequately funded by Government. In fact I believe that their role not just in treating those affected by drug and alcohol use but in educating young people to prevent future abuse, should be strengthened.
“At a time when new, more dangerous trends in the use of substances are emerging truly improving society’s relationship with drugs and alcohol at a regional level will require a greater and more meaningful response from Government than there has been to date,” he concluded.