Tuesday 27 September 2016

75pc of people who experienced drug intimidation did not report the incident to gardai

Jane O'Faherty

Published 12/11/2015 | 20:55

Minister Ó Ríordáin said drugs and associated crime had “a particularly corrosive impact on Irish communities”.
Minister Ó Ríordáin said drugs and associated crime had “a particularly corrosive impact on Irish communities”.

Almost three-quarters of people who experienced drug intimidation did not report the incident to gardai, new figures show.

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Research by CityWide Drug Crisis Campaign reveals that 67pc of those who experienced intimidation suffered from mental health problems as a result of that intimidation.

However, 90pc of those who reported intimidation in relation to drugs turned to community or support organisations.

Anna Quigley, CityWide Co-Ordinator, said the fact that many of those who have reported intimidation did so to a community or family support organisation was “encouraging”.

She also called on the new National Drugs Strategy to “build on the potential role of such organisations as a first port of call for people experiencing intimidation”.

Ms Quigley added that treating drug users as criminals was wrong, and welcomed the fact that the National Drugs Strategy had put the issue of decriminalisation on the agenda.

“Drug users are not problem people, they are instead people whose use of a drug may become a problem for them, their families and their wider community,” she said.

The findings were announced during a national conference on drug policy, which was held to mark Citywide’s 20th anniversary. It was attended by President Michael D Higgins and Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, as well as numerous campaigners and experts on world drug policy.

Speaking at the conference, Minister Ó Ríordáin said drugs and associated crime had “a particularly corrosive impact on Irish communities” through gangland crime as well as intimidation imposed on local communities.

He added that he saw parallels between the treatment of drug users and the treatment of other vulnerable groups such as Travellers, Roma and the homeless.

“As a society, we need to face up to the fact that addiction affects people from all social backgrounds, every family and every corner of Ireland,” he said.

“It is against this background that there is now an emerging debate in Ireland on whether an alternative approach to the possession of small quantities of illicit drugs should be considered.”

Meanwhile, President Higgins said he expected Ireland to play an important role in the debate on decriminalising possession of drugs.

“There is no doubt that in the deepening debate on drug policy, we are witnessing a shift internationally from a criminal justice response to drug use to a response based primarily on a public health perspective,” he said.

“Ireland will contribute to this debate, and continue to underline the importance of promoting a balanced approach to the global drug problem, that is underpinned by the promotion and protection of human rights.”

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