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A syringe lying at the foot of bikes in College Green in Dublin city (file photo) Sam Boal/

Nurse to be appointed to National Oversight Committee on Drugs after row over membership

A nursing group specialising in addiction was removed from the committee in December.

A NURSE WITH a background in addiction studies is expected to be appointed to the National Oversight Committee (NOC) on Drugs after initial criticism over the configuration of the group.

The Ireland Chapter of International Nurses Society on Addiction (IntNSA) served on the NOC until December when they were removed after the committee was reconfigured without warning.

The organisation last month expressed its “deep sense of insult and sadness” over its exclusion from future committee proceedings.

The NOC gives advice on how to support the implementation of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy 2021-2025. It comprises members from the statutory, community and voluntary sector, as well as clinical and academic expertise. 

When reorganising the NOC at the end of last year, Minister of State Frank Feighan reduced the number of expert appointees from four to two, resulting in IntNSA losing its position.

Feighan, who oversees the National Drugs Strategy, apologised for the situation in January.

“The delay in notifying you of my decision to reduce the number of appointees and not to continue with your membership of the NOC, and the resulting confusion, is very much regretted, and any offence caused was completely unintended,” he said.

Representatives from the group met with Feighan earlier this month in a bid to resolve the issue.

Speaking to The Journal, Dr Peter Kelly, IntNSA board member and lecturer in University College Cork, said the meeting was “positive” and “constructive”.

He said Feighan apologised in person, noting that IntNSA accepts this and wants to move forward.

On foot of the meeting, it is understood that a nurse with experience in addiction services will be appointed to the NOC.

It is not yet know if the nurse will be a member of IntNSA or another group. The terms of reference for this appointment are still being drafted and negotiations are ongoing.

“We had a meeting with them and it was positive. We obviously want the person to be independent and be in a position to advocate for nurses. The process is still ongoing.” Kelly said.

The Ireland Chapter of the IntNSA was established in 2016, the first outside of the United States. With over 50 members, it was first invited to join the NOC by former drugs minister Catherine Byrne.

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