[Sinn Fein]

22 January 1998

Fund for youth at risk from drugs - welcomed by Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein representative for Dublin South West Sean Crowe has welcomed the government announcement allocating 30 million to young people at risk from drugs.He described the money as ``a step in the right direction'' but that more than money was needed if the problem of drug abuse is to be eradicated.

``Expense is always used as an excuse for inaction, but todays announcement of 30 million for young people at risk from drugs is a step in the right direction. Sinn FÈin have consistently argued that the failure to develop support structures for young people, their families and their communities, will result in far greater costs in terms of both financial and social costs in dealing with the results when things go wrong.

``The drugs epidemic has been with us for years now with establishment politicians paying lip service to this growing problem.

``Recent a report from the EU Lisbon based monitoring agency on drugs stated that amount of drug use among teenagers Ireland is unrivalled in Europe. Many were shocked at the findings which highlighted the number of school children particularly in working class areas taking drugs. Unfortunately this in reality mirrors the attention been given by drug dealers to this group and reflects the widespread hold drugs have, on many communities. The announced funding has the potential to help those communities and more importantly the many young people at risk.

``An Eastern Health Board report in 1994 profiled the problem drug user in Dublin as young, poorly educated unemployed male living in a deprived area and using heroin. The next step for the government is to tackle the drug problem head on. The much lauded co- ordinated approach of the authorities response to the drugs epidemic ,the combining of state statuary agencies ,voluntary groups and community activists has operated varying levels and has been fraught with problems. Government agencies have still failed to learn a basic premise when it comes to the drugs problem.- Communities active against the drugs menace need to be supported not vilified.

``In Dublin many of us have warned that for young people to be exposed to drug abuse on a daily basis ,to the extent that it becomes a part of everyday life around them,has to significantly increase the risk of them becoming involved in drug abuse. That is why it is so important that the Garda Authorities tackle the big and small pushers that are destroying the quality of life of people in communities throughout this country. That is the next announcement people want to hear and see operating in their area..

``Today's announcement will be broadly welcomed but this government need to introduce many more measures if we are to reverse the years of neglect that has produced the drugs epidemic.''

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