Help Not Harm which was recently launched is a campaign to decriminalise drugs in Ireland to improve access to harm reduction, education and treatment.
Myself and fellow activists recently met with two individuals from key organisations working in the area.
First up was a meeting with Ana Quigley from the CityWide Drug Crisis Campaign
Citywide have been active for 20 years and is a national network of community activists and community organisations that are involved in responding to Ireland’s drugs crisis.
Our second meeting was with Tony Duffin from the Ana Liffey Drugs Project
ALDP have been active since 1982 and currently has around 2,500 active users. ALDP offers ‘Low Threshold – Harm Reduction’ services to individuals experiencing problematic substance use.
Our meetings covered a number of areas such as: The upcoming elections, plans for a medically supervised injection centre, the new Misuse of Drugs Act, the National Drugs Strategy, future collaborations and much more.
With regards to the upcoming election both Ana Liffey and CityWide are preparing to further lobby politicians and parties on the issues facing them and the users of their services.
Although not optimistic all of us were in agreement that political parties should be addressing drugs policy in their manifestos ahead of the elections.
The Minister for Drugs Strategy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin recently expressed the same sentiment during a public meeting
The proposed plan for medically supervised injecting centre are still underway. Both Tony and Ana were hopeful there might be movement on this issue before the new year.
As mentioned before there is a new Misuse of Drugs Act being drawn up. The new act is being introduced to cover any loopholes which led to some drugs being temporarily legalised earlier this year.
The act is also required to deal with other issues such as introducing an medically supervised injection centre.
The current National Drugs Strategy is set to expire next year and a new one introduced. There were some discussions around how activists could help shape the next one.
There were also talks on some collaborations between Help not Harm and ALDP and CityWide. I am optimistic there will be interesting news on this front shortly.
One of the aims is to work on a project that would act as a resource centre for information on drug policy. There is also the potential for future public events with an array of interesting guests.
CityWide celebrate their 20th anniversary this year and are holding a major conference next month. President Michael D. Higgins is among those who is due to attend.
Tony has written many articles on TheJournal.ie which are informative and great reads
The Help Not Harm team would like to thank Ana Quigley and Tony Duffin for their time. We can’t commend them enough for their work in the area.
Help Not Harm activists are also set for an interesting few weeks ahead, with many key public appearances.
Graham de Barra and Dan Kirby are two of the individuals from Help Not Harm who attended in these meetings. Both are set to appear in front of the Justice Committee in the Oireachtas in the coming weeks.
Both individuals, and a number of other activists, are also set to appear in an upcoming RTE documentary which airs in November.
A recent episode of the documentary looked at people born addicted to drugs and might be of interest. You can watch it here