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FG TD slams Technical Group for facilitating debate on Ming's Cannabis Bill

But one independent TD said we should not be afraid of “mature debate” on a bill that proposes the legalise and regulate the sale of cannabis in Ireland.

Image: Rolling joint via Shutterstock

A FINE GAEL TD has strongly criticised members of the Dáil Technical Group for facilitating a debate on the Cannabis Regulation Bill published by the independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan this week.

Derek Keating has said that the private members’ business is a “waste of time” and a “cynical attempt” by some of the group’s members to facilitate Flanagan “in his mission to legalise cannabis and, as a consequence, to liberalise more damaging and life threatening substances such as heroin, crack cocaine and amphetamines”.

But independent TDs in the group, who Keating criticised, pointed out that they are only facilitating the debate and not necessarily supporting the legislation.

Flanagan’s bill, if passed, would legalise cannabis growing and use as well as regulate the industry in Ireland but it is almost certainly going to be rejected by government when it comes before the Dáil next month.

Keating, a TD for Dublin Mid West, said his constituency has been “blighted by drug barons” and cited research showing cannabis use among children as young as 10.

“Research that was carried out by the National University of Ireland showed that up to 8 per cent of children aged 10 years of age reported having used cannabis in the previous 12 months,” he said. “This is a shocking statistic and one that is eroding our society.”

He said the legalising of cannabis “is simply unacceptable” and said the Technical Group would be better suited to proposing business that has “been proposed by experts and professionals in the field of addiction”.

In response to queries, three members of the Technical Group hit back at Keating with one of them, Waterford TD John Halligan, saying the Fine Gael deputy is “missing the point”.

He said: “Derek should know, unless he doesn’t know the runnings of the Dáil, that we can’t stop him [Ming] from doing that.

“The Technical Group cannot tell you what private members’ business you can put in. If Derek wanted to put in a bill to stop people over 25 from driving a car he would be allowed to do that.”

Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy said: “He [Keating] clearly does not want to understand what a Technical Group is. It is not, as he well knows, a common policy platform,

She said that she has not yet studied Flanagan’s bill but takes the view “that we should not fear a mature debate”, a view echoed by Halligan.

Fellow independent deputy, Finian McGrath, said that Keating should “get his facts right” saying the group is just facilitating debate.

Read: 6 things we learned from Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s Cannabis Regulation Bill

Cannabis legalisation: Where do the parties stand?

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Hugh O'Connell

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