The general election is less than a week away and across the country voters are making up their minds. To aid them parties and election candidates release their election manifestos.
In the manifesto parties/candidates outline what policies they wish to pursue should they get into government. Whether or not they stick to such promises is another worthwhile debate.
Most parties address drug policy in some manner in their manifestos. Below I reveal what the parties say about drug policy.
This guide on finding out what your local candidates thinks of cannabis decriminalisation may also be useful.
Fine Gael dedicate a section to the issue of drugs and alcohol in their manifesto. Here is what it states.
Tackling the problem of drug and alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour in our communities requires a comprehensive approach incorporating policing, treatment and demand reduction. It is only through a combination of these measures that we can address the underlying causes of this behaviour, reduce harm to the individual and better safeguard our communities.
Fine Gael will finalise an updated National Drugs Strategy, full implementation of which will be vital in achieving these goals and meeting the challenges of tackling the harm caused to individuals, families and communities
Fine Gael will put in place further laws and resources to disrupt the supply of illegal drugs, supporting the Gardaí and the Revenue Commissioners in the effective detection, interception and seizure of controlled drugs.
As Garda numbers continue to increase we will ensure further resources are assigned to the new national Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and to strengthen the local drug units. This response will be coupled with ongoing support for outreach programmes which work with vulnerable and at-risk individuals in addressing complicated addiction issues.
We will enforce new legislation against driving while under the influence of drugs
Fine Gael will ensure full implementation of the National Drugs Strategy and continue to resource the new Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and local drugs units to tackle changing trends in drugs supply. We will continue to support Local Drug Taskforce projects for young people including targeted drug prevention and awareness programmes
Here is what the Labour Party’s manifesto states.
In government, Labour appointed a dedicated Minister of State with responsibility for drugs policy. We have partially restored cuts in funding for local and regional drugs and alcohol taskforces.
We started work on a new national drugs strategy. We want to see families, victim support, harm reduction and education at the heart of the new strategy, along with improved funding for the Local Drugs Task Forces.
We will establish a twin-track approach, as in the Portuguese model, where the resources of the criminal justice system are targeted at the pushers and, at the same time, measures to reduce demand for drugs are implemented and medical supports are focused on the victims of drug abuse.
We will put the Drugs Court on a statutory footing and will expand its remit.
We will continue to support medically-supervised injecting centres, to protect the public and minimise cross-contamination amongst drug users.
We will introduce a system of Community Courts within the District Court system that will be neighbourhood focused, specifically addressing problems of particular communities by targeting ‘quality of life’ crimes such as drug possession, public order offences, petty theft, prostitution and vandalism. This will relieve pressure on the prison system and curb recidivism by nipping it in the bud. We have allocated €2m to this new structure.
We will: (i) Create a new Cabinet Minister for Community Support & Development, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Ensure the Minister will lead cross-departmental coordination in the fight against the spread and damage of serious drugs.
The government has consistently downgraded the importance of tackling the scourge of drugs in cities, towns and villages across Ireland. We need to revitalise government efforts to stamp out the multi generational problem of drugs in the worst affected communities. A single lead Minister should take charge of this problem.
Sadly the Sinn Fein manifesto doesn’t address the issue of illegal drugs at all. Perhaps the only relevant section is the following:
We will invest the money seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau back to frontline services in the communities worst affected by crime.
However, we have spoken to a number of their TD’s and believe the issue is to go before party members in April. Help Not Harm have already been invited to the conference.
A core aspect of the Social Democrat mental health policy is to tackle the service distinction between addiction and mental health. Substance abuse and mental health issues often go hand in hand, and the first point of contact with a service provider for individuals with a dual-diagnosis should seek to tackle both issues in a holistic fashion.
A study by the UK Dept. of Health, suggest that 75% of users of drug services and 85% of users of alcohol services experienced mental health problems. 44% of mental health service users reported drug use. (Weaver et al, 2002). The Social Democrats would realign the mental-health and addiction services of the HSE to tackle the intertwined issues of addiction and mental health in a complimentary fashion.
The amendment of the Misuse of Drugs Act to address the widespread problem of the street trading and abuse of prescription drugs.
The restoration of resources to the Garda Drug unit
A fundamental review of drug treatment services
An enhanced role for drug and alcohol task forces.
People Before Profit
People Before Profit recognises the State’s approach to drugs as problematic. Illegal drugs are sold widely, legal drugs such as alcohol are promoted via sporting events and pharmaceuticals are making huge profits on some very addictive and dangerous prescription drugs. PBP recognises the challenges faced by the many situations which relate to drug availability, use and dependency. We intend to:
1. Overhaul what and how children and young people are taught about drugs in schools, ensuring accurate, factual information is provided about the effect of drugs, their composition and contents, and the potential dangers and realties of drug consumption;
2. Recognise drug dependency as a medical problem, not a criminal one;
3. Decriminalise drugs based on the Portuguese model and the non-commercial legalisation of cannabis similar to the Colorado example. Today in Portugal 3 out of every million people die from overdosing. This is compared to the EU average of 17.5 per million;
4. Promote alternative treatments and therapies in place of the current over-reliance on prescription medication for a range of physical and mental health challenges.
More closely integrate treatment of drug dependency and mental health, with promotion of non-drug options for personal and social problems
Improve funding for services and facilities that assist safe withdrawal and longer-term rehabilitation for patients with long-term use of psychoactive drugs including prescription drugs
The Green Party supports a move away from a criminal-justice based approach to a health-based approach to Drug policy. The primary goal of our policy should be to minimize harm caused by drug use alongside demand reduction measures. The decriminalization of drug use is a good first step toward achieving this, but only a first step
RENUA Ireland supports the introduction of rural engagement offcers like those established in New Zealand, involving the prioritisation of locations across the country where citizens are more likely to be victims of crime, with a focus on families, youth, road policing, organised crime, alcohol and drugs
Decriminalisation of recreational drug users, in line with the Portuguese model. Drug users would be treated sympathetically within the medical model with access to clean needles, health checkups and advice from medical personnel, access to counselling and rehabilitation programmes. Socially, this would go a long way to preventing backstreet dealership, robberies, health problems etc. We would also seek legislation in favour of the medicinal use of cannabis.
Direct Democracy Ireland
In DDI we acknowledge that recreational drugs are a serious and growing problem for justice, crime, health and society in general. We will instigate a serious countrywide debate on how best to reduce the supply of drugs as well as reduce the numbers of people both providing and using them. This will include new options hitherto not publicly discussed such as life sentences for drug dealing at one extreme, to legalisation and state provision with state registers of users at the other.
By removing the “political scoring points” from the options we will have a true open and frank society-wide debate on drugs and DDI will implement the best solutions, chosen by the people.
You can read the Direct Democracy Ireland manifesto here
If we have missed anyone, misrepresented anyone, or you have any comments, please get in touch.