[Sinn Fein]

4 April 2001

Drugs crisis should be given same urgency as foot and mouth emergency

The Sinn Fein spokesperson for Dublin South Central has called for the Government to treat the drugs crisis with the same urgency as it is tackling the foot and mouth disease.

Sinn Fein Dublin South Central spokesperson and Ard Chomhairle member Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:  ``The drugs crisis is causing daily devastation to Irish families just as the foot and mouth disease is damaging communities all over the island.''

He also criticised the failure of the courts to use the minimum ten-year sentences for major drugs dealers.  He said:  ``Only two cases have imposed the full ten year sentence: one in Cork and one in Wexford.  No-one in the capital, despite having an estimated 13,500 addicts, has been given the full sentence.''

The Sinn Fein spokesperson said that early prevention and more drugs awareness programmes are essential. This involves schools, gardaí and a greater concentration of rehabilitation and residential care.

``Ireland is engaged in a national crisis at the moment with the foot and mouth disease. The Government is spending millions of pounds to stop the spread of this disease. Perhaps if the same priority was given to the drugs epidemic there may be some real movement towards helping solve the problem.'' ENDS                                                                                                                                                                        

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