Athlone Councillor, Aengus O’Rourke, has this week hit out at the Government’s poor attitude towards delivering much needed funding to local and regional drug and alcohol task forces in communities nationwide, noting that “they are letting down those most in need of support”.
Last week, all nine former Ministers who have held responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy came together calling on the Taoiseach to act to reinvigorate drugs policy as the situation is now at crisis point with drug taking, drug deals and related anti-social behaviour visible more than ever on our streets.
“I served on the Midland Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force for five years and saw first hand the incredible work they do, working with other agencies on the ground, for people who need interventions and support. The task forces play an essential role in communities across the country by providing a targeted response to emerging trends in drug and alcohol use. Furthermore, too many people are living with the daily nightmare of drug-related intimidation and violence in this town and nationwide.
“Ensuring that the task forces are adequately funded is a matter of public health. For these services to remain in communities to support those with problematic drug or alcohol use (or both ), they need to receive consistent levels of funding all year round.
“During a time when drug and alcohol use and abuse is on the rise, particularly among our young people, this serious issue was not mentioned or featured in the Government’s funding agenda for 2020. What we need to see is investment in community-based services to tackle the ongoing issues.
“This Fine Gael Government continues to neglect this very serious problem. The lack of collaboration poses a risk to the success of the work of the task forces and we urgently need to see change in this area,” Cllr. O’Rourke concluded.