From [email protected] <[email protected]>
Subject FOR REVIEW - Drugnet Ireland, Issue 75, Autumn 2020
Date November 25, 2020 9:30 AM
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National Drugs Strategy and New Programme for Government
by lucy Dillon
On 2 July 2020, Frank Feighan TD for Sligo-Leitrim was appointed Minister of State for Public
Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy. This follows on from the publication of Programme
for Government: our shared future.1 The new Programme for Government commits to taking a health-led
approach to drugs misuse and continuing to deliver on the existing national drugs strategy (NDS),
Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery (2017–2025).2

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Fergus McCabe
We were very saddened to learn of the recent death of Fergus McCabe. Fergus was a brilliant
organiser, advocate and campaigner and brought a deep knowledge of drugs issues to all his work. He
made valuable and incisive contributions to successive drugs strategies. He was also an avid reader
and champion of Drugnet Ireland. We are grateful to his friend and colleague, Anna Quigley,
Co-ordinator, Citywide Drugs Crisis campaign for the short tribute below.

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Children’s Bail Supervision Scheme evaluation
by Ciara H Guiney
In December 2019, Minister Katherine Zappone launched the Evaluation of the Bail Supervision Scheme
(BSS) for Children report.1 The evaluation, commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth
Affairs (DCYA), was carried out by the Research Evidence into Policy Programmes and Practice (REPPP)
team from the School of Law in the University of Limerick. The overall aim of the evaluation was to
examine behavioural change outcomes and processes that contributed to those outcomes between May
2017 and June 2018. DCYA commissioned the social justice charity Extern to deliver the ‘pilot’ BSS
intervention to children deemed at high risk of being detained in a prison in Dublin (p. 9).

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Policing with trust
by Ciara H Guiney
In July 2020, the Ana Liffey Drug Project published a report on the proceedings of the Policing in
Changing Policy Environments event, held at Dublin Castle in June 2019.1 Forty national and
international experts came together with the aim of sharing knowledge and understanding as well as
exploring challenges and experiences in the areas of law enforcement and public health. The Chatham
House Rule was applied to the event and to the final report. The event consisted of two sessions:
the morning focused on providing information (presentations and discussions), while the afternoon
involved interaction (plenary sessions and facilitated working groups).

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Sharing the Vision: a mental health policy for everyone
by Lucy Dillion
A new national mental health policy was published in June, Sharing the Vision: a mental health
policy for everyone.1 It succeeds A Vision for Change (AVFC), which has guided policy in the area
since 2006. Sharing the Vision is described as a ‘refreshed policy’ in the foreword to the document
by Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly TD. It carries forward elements of AVFC
deemed to be of ongoing relevance but also includes many new elements based on the findings of a
process of research and consultation underway since 2017. The new policy is described as being one
that ‘focuses very strongly on developing a broad-based, whole-system mental health policy for all
of the population that aligns closely with the main provisions of Sláintecare’ (p. 13).

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In brief
Effective monitoring and reliable data are essential for economic and health planning and for
supporting an informed and politically active citizenry. The constant updates on the impact of the
Covid pandemic help us to keep informed, but they can also be wearying, and their contribution to
our knowledge depends on our capacity to absorb difficult information.

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Crack cocaine use in Ballymun
by Seán Millar
Crack cocaine has become increasingly problematic for some marginalised communities. The recent
identification of particular sites in Ballymun, Dublin associated with crack cocaine use has raised
serious concerns of an emerging crack cocaine problem in the local area, similar to other
communities. Despite the increase in levels of usage and treatment-seeking for crack cocaine use,
there is limited national and international research available on the nature and extent of its use.
Local anecdotal evidence in Ballymun suggests that the problem is widespread and having a
detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of users, their families, and the wider community.
While drug issues and related harms are not a new phenomenon in this community, this is the first
time that Ballymun has faced a crack cocaine issue of such proportions. In light of these
developments, a recent study explored crack cocaine use experiences in the Ballymun community with a
view to informing the establishment of a local policy and practice/intervention evidence base for
crack cocaine in Ballymun.1

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Irish drug use findings from European Men-Who-Have-Sex-With-Men Internet Survey
Most men who have sex with men (MSM) and who use recreational drugs do so on a sporadic basis, for
specific purposes such as partying, socialising, or having sex. However, evidence suggests that
among MSM who use drugs, there is a preference for ‘sex drugs’, including alkyl nitrites
(‘poppers’), crystal methamphetamine (‘crystal meth’), club drugs (including ketamine and ecstasy),
and new psychoactive substances.1 Use of these drugs is associated with higher-risk sexual
behaviours and sexually transmitted disease acquisition.2 Little is known about the prevalence and
determinants of drug use among MSM in Ireland. However, the number of HIV diagnoses has been
increasing among MSM in Ireland in recent years and drug use among this population may be a
contributory factor.

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National Sexual Assault Treatment Unit Services annual report, 2019
by Catherine Walshe
Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs) provide clinical, forensic, and supportive care to victims of
sexual violence in Ireland. There are six SATUs across Ireland, including Waterford, Mullingar,
Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Letterkenny. SATUs offer three streams of care for survivors of sexual
violence. These include forensic examination following the reporting of the crime to An Garda
Síochána; health assessment and care without reporting the crime to An Garda Síochána; and
healthcare and forensic examination with safe storage of evidence allowing for subsequent reporting
to An Garda Síochána.

The national SATU services publishes an annual report on service provision. Identifying patterns and
trends in service utilisation provides each SATU with the opportunity to adapt to service user
needs. This article summarises the 2019 annual report.1

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Hepatitis C virus infection in Irish drug users and prisoners – a scoping review
by Seán Millar
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Estimating the seroprevalence of untreated chronic HCV infection in Mountjoy Prison
by Seán Millar
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Senior management perspectives on needle exchange provision in Irish prisons
by Seán Millar
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Prison visiting committee annual reports, 2018
by Seán Millar
A visiting committee is appointed to each Irish prison under the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act
1925 and the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Order 1925. Members of the 12 visiting committees are
appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality for a term not exceeding three years. The
function of prison visiting committees is to visit, at frequent intervals, the prison to which they
are appointed and hear any complaints that may be made to them by any prisoner. They report to the
Minister for Justice and Equality regarding any abuses observed or found, and any repairs which they
think are urgently needed. Prison visiting committee members have free access, either collectively
or individually, to every part of the prison to which their committee is appointed. Information from
prison visiting committee reports relating to drug use in prisons for 2018 is summarised below.1

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Ana Liffey Drug Project annual report, 2018
by Seán Millar
The Ana Liffey Drug Project (ALDP) is a ‘low-threshold, harm reduction’ project working with people
who are actively using drugs and experiencing associated problems. ALDP has been offering harm
reduction services to people in the north inner-city area of Dublin since 1982, from premises at
Middle Abbey Street. ALDP offers a wide variety of low-threshold, harm reduction services that offer
pathways for drug users out of their current circumstance, including addiction and homelessness.

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Adolescent Addiction Service report, 2020
by Seán Millar
The Adolescent Addiction Service (AAS) of the Health Service Executive (HSE) provides support and
treatment in relation to alcohol and drug use for young people and families from the Dublin suburbs
of Ballyfermot, Clondalkin, Palmerstown, Lucan, and Inchicore. Services provided include advice,
assessment, counselling, family therapy, professional consultations, and medications if required. In
2020, AAS published a report detailing referrals for 2019.1

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An Garda Síochána annual report, 2018
by Ciara H Guiney
In December 2019, An Garda Síochána (AGS) published their annual report for 2018.1 While 2018 was
considered a challenging year for AGS, it was also viewed positively. The report identifies where
targets from the 2018 Policing Plan2,3 were fully and partially met and where they were not. This
article will first report on activities related to national policing; followed by national security
and intelligence; community safety; statistics for detections of incidents related to the sale and
supply of drugs; and Garda drug seizures for 2018.

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Upcoming events
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LSE report on Irish response to Covid-19
by Lucy Dillion
In July 2020, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) published a report on
Ireland’s response to Covid-19 in relation to people who are homeless and use drugs, entitled Saving
lives in the time of COVID-19: case study of harm reduction, homelessness and drug use in Dublin,
Ireland.1 The report is a policy briefing that outlines the policy changes made in Ireland to harm
reduction services in response to Covid-19. It argues that lives within the target group were saved
as a result of these changes and that the policy changes should be maintained in the post-Covid era.

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Covid-19 and community alcohol detoxification
by Cathy Kelleher
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Caring for opioid drug users during Covid-19: the Irish experience
by Vivion McGuire
The Covid-19 pandemic presents a major challenge to healthcare services and the provision of care. A
commentary on the Irish experience of challenges faced by people who use opioids (PWUO) and the
service providers working with this vulnerable population was published in Heroin Addiction and
Related Clinical Problems.1 The authors also describe and discuss the evidence guiding the measures
implemented to reduce the risks associated with Covid-19 to Irish opioid agonist treatment (OAT)

Various national and international bodies have highlighted additional dangers faced by PWUO and
produced guidelines for drug treatment and harm reduction practitioners. To this end, the Health
Service Executive (HSE) published guidelines for general practitioners and pharmacies providing OAT
services to those at greatest risk at this time.2

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Needle exchange provision during Covid-19 pandemic
by Seán Millar
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