Eamon Ó Cuív: Cocaine usage a “national scourge” across society

Galway Daily news Eamon Ó Cuív: Cocaine usage a

Cocaine usage has become a “national scourge” and that a new strategy is needed to tackle the problem Galway TD Eamon Ó Cuív has said.

Speaking in the Dáil this week, the Fianna Fáil TD said that a recent UN report found that Ireland has the 4th highest usage of cocaine in the world.

“This brings a risk of violence, as drug gangs compete for growing markets,” Eamon Ó Cuív said, adding that there has also been a large increase in crack cocaine usage.

The report said that 2.4% of Irish people admitted using cocaine in the past year, a level only eclipsed by the Netherlands, Australia and Spain.

“Use of drugs leads to violence, including domestic violence, breakdown in relationships, mental health issues etc.,” Ó Cuív added.

He asked Taoiseach Varadkar agreed that a new “more comprehensive and co-ordinated strategy” strategy is needed for the “national scourge” cocaine.

Such a strategy should involve education, crime prevention, tackling drug trafficking, and also providing assistance and health support for people affected by addiction, he said.

Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State with responsibility for the national drug strategy said that a citizens assembly on drugs is due to meet this month, and report back by the end of the year.

“In Government, we have a health-led approach to drug addiction, trying to reduce harm and examining every aspect, such as the areas Deputy Ó Cuív raised, in how we deal with drug addiction and use in Ireland.”

The current best international practices must be examined as part of this issue, she said, with experts due to address the citizens assembly.

“We must make sure the assembly examines all aspects such as criminality, how we deal with helping people in rehabilitation, the health-led approach, as well as the criminal aspects.”

Deputy Naughton said that she looked forward to the “deliberative process” on the drugs issue which will occur over the coming months.