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Minister of State Frank Feighan. Leah Farrell
Frank Feighan

Drugs minister begins prep for Citizens' Assembly in 2023 'after clarification from Taoiseach's office'

Minister of State Frank Feighan confirmed to The Journal last week that the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs would not take place this year.

THE MINISTER FOR drugs Frank Feighan has said that preparations for the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs had begun, after confirming to The Journal last week that it would not be taking place this year, as had been previously expected. 

Opposition politicians and campaigners were strongly critical of the decision to delay the citizens’ assembly on drugs, with Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who previously served as drugs minister, telling The Journal that he had “lost all patience and confidence in” Feighan as a result.

“This delay shows the lack of urgency, the lack of care, the lack of compassion of the Government. If Dublin doesn’t have a directly elected mayor in five years, no one will die. This delay is costing lives. It is a disgusting disgrace,” he said.

In February, Cabinet signed off on two other citizens’ assemblies that are expected to take place this year, focusing on the State’s response to biodiversity and the type of directly elected mayor and local government structures which best suit Dublin.

Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Frank Feighan confirmed in a statement this evening that he had yesterday “commenced preparations” for the citizens’ assembly with the National Oversight Committee for the drugs strategy.

He said that this was after “clarification from the Department of the Taoiseach that the citizens’ assembly on drug use will commence in early 2023″.

Minister Feighan added in a statement: “I acknowledge there is some disappointment that it is not possible to commence this citizens’ assembly in 2022.

“However, I intend to commence preparations for the citizens’ assembly on drug use now, so that there will be no delay in establishing the citizens’ assembly at the start of 2023 and submitting its report in quarter 4, 2023. This will allow a period of over one year for the Government to consider its recommendations.”

Feighan said that one of the recommendations from the meeting held yesterday was to ensure people who use drugs are involved in the citizens’ assembly.

The citizens’ assembly on drugs is expected to run concurrently with an assembly on the future of education next year.

Ireland has one of the highest rates of drug-related overdose rates in Europe, with hundreds of people dying every year.

- With reporting from Órla Ryan.

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