30 Nov 2017

Irish government praised in the House of Lords for taking bold step in drug policy

Irish government praised in the House of Lords for taking bold step in drug policy

At the launch of a new report “Back Yard: An Investigation into the Feasibility of Establishing Drug Consumption Rooms” on Tuesday 28th November in the House of Lords, Lord Ramsbotham commended the work of the Ana Liffey Drug Project in lobbying for the introduction of supervised injecting rooms for active drug users in Ireland. Speaking at the event, Lord Ramsbotham said,

“Lobbying for progressive change to the law such as that to allow for supervised injecting is not an easy task. It requires problem solving and tenacity. The Ana Liffey Drug Project has displayed both over the past five years.”

He also had praise for the Irish Government, who moved quickly to introduce legislation so that the services would be on a firm legal footing:

“I commend the Irish government for taking this bold step in drug policy; through this permissive legislation they have shown leadership and a genuine commitment to addressing drug use as a health issue. We will closely observe how the pilot service in Dublin progresses. That said, the evidence from across the world is strong. Properly managed drug consumption rooms bring benefits to both people who use drugs and the broader public. There is nothing to suggest that the Dublin pilot supervised injecting facility will be any different.”

The Back Yard report, published by Volteface, considers how can drug consumption rooms be feasibly introduced in the UK; and looks for the answer in Glasgow and Dublin, two cities which are progressing the establishment of a drug consumption room, a sanctioned facility where people can use illicit drugs under the supervision of trained staff. The Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership are currently identifying a site for a drug consumption room and the Irish Health Service Executive are undergoing a tendering process for a service in Dublin City Centre.

Tony Duffin, the CEO of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, joined a panel of experts in the House of Lords to discuss the findings of the report:

“Let’s be crystal clear - drug consumption rooms save lives and taxpayers’ money. They improve the amenity of the area they are established in, and they get people through to treatment and rehabilitation faster than otherwise. Importantly, nobody has ever died of an overdose in any of the many drug consumption rooms across the world. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same of the alleyways of our cities across Ireland and the UK. We can’t eradicate the street-based injecting, but as societies we can manage drug use much, much better. Supervised consumption is one way of doing this.”

Duffin continued,

“There were 3,744 drug poisoning deaths in England and Wales registered in 2016, the highest number since comparable statistics began in 1993. If things are progressing at a comparable rate this year, we can expect 300 deaths between now and the New Year. That is 300 families devastated – and all for deaths that are avoidable. We can and we must do much, much better. This report shows that there is great learning from Ireland’s recent experience with regard to the introduction of the ‘Misuse Use of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Facilities) Act 2017’. We are very happy to share all we can with our colleagues in the UK in the hope that they too will introduce any legislative change necessary to allow for the existence of drug consumption rooms.”

Source: The Ana Liffey Drug Project, 30/11/17

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