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Build a drug-free society, and say no to failed policy of decriminalisation

Fr McVerry’s work with homeless youth in Dublin’s inner city is highly valued and rightly so. However, he has become blinded by his righteous anger at the injustice of neglect to vulnerable and homeless people there.

To suggest that drugs can be bought as easily as pizza in certain places may of course be true. If this is so, then why aren’t our Garda concentrating on these areas of concern? Is this because we do not have enough gardaí on the beat due to cutbacks to arrest dealers?

It certainly throws a bad light on policing in Ireland. But to suggest that because of this, drugs should now be decriminalised, is gravely misleading. Drug decriminalisation removes dealing from the criminal system and the dealers will use their addicts who are in debt to them to deal in smaller quantities.

The chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice is incorrect in stating that decriminalisation is not tantamount to legalisation. The UN Conventions on narcotic drugs clearly oppose decriminalisation.

The figures from Cardosa, Santos and Duarte’s study of Portugal’s decriminalisation clearly shows an increase in overall drug use for all drugs and an increase in criminality.

This also implies drug debt which ties addicts into the sub-culture.

This study is accepted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and that of the Portuguese government heavily criticised. Why has it not been taken into account by the committee chair? Are they not aware of these studies? If not why not? Why only visit one country for advice?

Have the Justice committee members discussed decriminalisation with our nearest neighbours the UK, and Northern Ireland?

If so, they would have been informed of the failure of trials there when drug use increased among teens.

Ireland’s laws cannot be made to suit certain areas or voices in the inner city of Dublin.

To do so is neglectful of the needs of the suburbs and provincial areas in need of prevention, diversion and treatment programmes that lead to a drug-free life.

Addicts can and do recover within the system despite its many failings.

The family is the first line of defence against drugs. When that fails, as it does for many reasons, then the law is the last defence to preserve life.

Grainne Kenny

Hon President EURAD (European Action on Drug Policy)

Dun Laoghaire

Co Dublin


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