Small drug projects ‘will not survive latest cuts’

Many hard-pressed drug projects will not survive the latest cuts to funding following the budget, according to community groups.

The Department of Health’s Drugs Initiative budget has been cut by 5%, bringing total funding from €31.5m to €29.9m.

Joan Byrne of Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign said funding under the initiative has fallen 34% since 2008. “If the 5% cut is implemented, some projects won’t survive, particularly the smaller projects,” said Ms Byrne.

She said larger projects were also under pressure. “Take a project with a half a million [euro] budget, that’s €25,000 [to be cut], that’s a worker gone, because there is nowhere left to cut.”

Ms Byrne was attending the lighting of the Christmas Tree on Seán MacDermott Street in Dublin’s north inner city, commemorating the 300-plus people who have died in the area from drug-related causes.

Seanie Lambe, chairman of Inner City Organisations Network, said the tree provided some comfort to victims’ families. “It’s also a catalyst to keep going, to keep battling. It’s heartbreaking to see communities being attacked on all fronts... There’s a great deal of anger out there.

“It seems to me the National Drugs Strategy is being thrown into the bin. It’s certainly not high on the priority list of anyone in Government.”

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