Last Friday, May 5, saw the launch of the Community Action Plan on Drugs and Alcohol for Westmeath at the Sheraton Athlone Hotel by Catherine Byrne, Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy.
During 2015, the Midland Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Force (MRDATF ) secured funding from Pobal through the Dormant Accounts Fund to facilitate a community mobilisation process that promoted prevention and awareness initiatives associated with alcohol and drug misuse in Westmeath.
This initiative has seen the development of a community-based Drug and Alcohol Action Plan and the establishment of a County Stakeholder Action Group (CSAG ) for the county.
Addressing the crowd at the launch, local Fianna Fáil councillor, Frankie Keena, extended a warm welcome to Minister Byrne and to all those in attendance.
“It is a great opportunity for the Minister to see first hand what is happening on the ground in the Midlands through the valuable work of the Midland Regional Drug and Alcohol Taskforce under the excellent chairmanship of Peter McEvoy and coordinator Antoinette Kinsella and her team,” he said.
“Athlone Drug Awareness Group was delighted to have been chosen to work in conjunction with the Midland Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force to facilitate the development of a Community Action Plan on Drugs and Alcohol for Westmeath and the subsequent development of a County Stakeholder Action Group.”
Cllr Keena also gave special mention to Aoife Dermody of Quality Matters, to the Dormant Accounts for funding the initiative, and to the 25+ groups from every corner of the county that have made the plan possible.
He also welcomed the fact that the Action Plan mainly focuses on the prevention/education pillar of the National Drugs Strategy.
“It is unfortunate and understandable that due to the large number of addicts in the country that the majority of services are focused on outcomes for those who require support, rather than focusing on efforts to prevent people developing drug and alcohol difficulties. This conveyor belt syndrome needs to be addressed,” he said.