Marc Cullen, Paul Birch and Graham de Barra outside the Dáil
Last week a new campaign was launched aimed at introducing more drug education, more harm reduction policies, and ultimately the decriminalisation of drugs.
The name of the campaign is
Help Not Harm and it is the brainchild of a number of activists, including Students For Sensible Drug Policy Ireland and Paul Birch.
While Paul Birch’s name may not be familiar to many,
Bebo the company he helped create probably is.
Paul is also one of the individuals behind
Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (CISTA) which is a cannabis political party that ran 32 candidates in the UK and Northern Ireland during the last elections.
You can learn about the establishment of CISTA here
The new campaign
Help Not Harm emerged following a number of meetings and calls. The process began when Graham be Barra and Sean Lynch from SSDP Ireland met Paul Birch in Barcelona in July.
They were invited to take part in a
CISTA research trip to Spain, which included a visit to the Catalan parliament.
Weeks later there were meetings in Ireland involving various activists from
NORML Ireland, CISTA and SSDP Ireland. I was in attendance for the meeting with SSDP Ireland
These discussions were followed by a number of Skype calls where further details were worked out, some of which I participated in.
All this lead to last Thursday when
Help Not Harm was officially launched. The launch of the campaign resulted in a number of significant media appearances.
First up in the morning was
RTE Radio One where Paul Birch appeared on Sean O’Rourke’s show. You can listen back here
Paul Birch and Graham de Barra – RTE studios – August 2015
Next up was an interview on Sean Moncrieff’s show on
Newstalk just after lunch. You can listen back here
Paul Birch – Newstalk studio – August 2015
These radio appearances were followed by one on
Today FM with Matt Cooper in the evening. You can listen back here
Paul Birch and Graham de Barra – Today FM studio – August 2015
Alongside the radio appearances there was also an article in the
Irish Independent in which Paul stated the drug laws in Ireland were ‘appalling’
One of Paul’s comments also later made the
Irish Independent’s quotes of the week
There was also an article on
TheJournal.ie which highlighted the campaign
Local media also picked up on the story with Cork’s
Evening Echo running an article on the campaign. You can view that here
In the coming weeks there are going to be more meetings and further plans are to be unveiled. With the elections just on the horizon you can be assured highlighting the issue of drug reform will feature.
To learn more about the campaign and to get involved please visit their website
Help Not Harm. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter