January 29, 2018
Philly McMahon, GAA star and author, today launched ‘Safer From Harm’, the new strategic plan of the Ana Liffey Drug Project at the Mansion House, Dublin.
Philly McMahon, GAA star and author, today launched ‘Safer From Harm’, the new strategic plan of the Ana Liffey Drug Project at the Mansion House, Dublin. Speaking at the event, he noted:
“When Ana Liffey asked me to launch their strategic plan, I was delighted to say yes. I know first-hand how drug use can impact greatly on any individual and any family. I also know that in order to make things better, we need to support people who use drugs and who might be struggling – not judge them, or turn away, or be fearful. Only an individual can change their behaviour, but those around them can help make it easier for them to make changes. This is what the staff at Ana Liffey do – support people to make a positive change in their lives. Our national drugs strategy “Reducing Harm, Promoting Recovery” is person-centred and grounded in a public health approach. Ana Liffey’s work contributes to this national mandate, and I look forward to staying engaged over the course of the strategy”
Ana Liffey provides direct services to people who use drugs in Dublin and the Midwest, as well as advocating for person-centred and evidence-based drug policy. The organisation engaged with over 2000 people in 2017 and informed the policy debate around the development of supervised injecting facilities as a service response in Ireland. A decision on who will deliver the first such facility in Dublin is expected soon. Tony Duffin, Ana Liffey’s CEO, said that their new plan was ambitious but achievable:
“We’re committed to being the best we can be. We’re very focused on advocating for and delivering quality services for people who use drugs. As a civil society organisation, it’s important for us to be brave and be ambitious in the kind of vision we have for how society responds to drug use, and we think this strategy is both of these things. Equally, it’s important for an organisation’s work to be measurable and realistic, and we believe that it achieves this also.”
As examples, Duffin points to two of the organisation’s goals – working towards the decriminalisation of simple possession of small amounts of drugs and increasing case management capacity for people with complex and multiple needs.
“Ireland is in a good place currently in relation to drug policy. Our current national strategy – ‘Reducing Harm, Promoting Recovery’ clearly prioritises health over criminal justice as a response to drug use. This is critical – criminalising people just for using drugs is counterproductive – it causes harm rather than reducing it. There is a working group under the National Drug Strategy looking at policy options in this regard – we welcome this and look forward to engaging with the working group.”
“Similarly, there are lots of people whose needs go far beyond drug use – it’s easy to oversimplify and think of problematic drug use as a standalone issue. It’s not. Many people who use drugs problematically have multiple difficulties – we recognise this and we will look to increase our capacity to provide tailored support to address the underlying issues that lead to problematic drug use.”