By Cormac O'Keeffe
Groups working at the coalface of the drugs problem are to lead calls today and tomorrow, in Dublin and Cork, for the decriminalisation of drug possession. It comes as the Department of Health revealed it had received more than 14,000 submissions in just three weeks in its public consultation in relation to the law around possession of drugs for personal use. The issue is being examined by a State expert group and, due to the level of public response, the department has extended the deadline for submissions from June 30 to July 13. The CityWide Drugs Crisis Campaign, an umbrella group of local drug projects, is today holding a conference in Dublin. The speakers include Anna Quigley of CityWide, homelessness and youth campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, and senators Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Lynn Ruane.
Journalist Anne Buckley, who made TV documentary My War on Drugs, Gerard Rowe, youth worker with Belong To Drug and Alcohol Service, and Ana Liffey Drug Project’s Marcus Keane are also set to attend. Speaking ahead of the event, Ms Quigley said that recent figures show there were 12,211 recorded offences for possession of drugs for personal use in Ireland, or some 72% of all drug cases. “Significant state resources are tied up in dealing with such offences including police time, legal fees, court time and that of the DPP’s Office,” she said.