Minister defends level of funding and provision of treatment services
(Source:'Minister defends level of drug treatment': Irish Times p. 8, 17 May 2006)
Minister of State Noel Ahern claimed that Ireland is doing ‘damn well by international standards’ in provision of methadone treatment for heroin addiction.
Responding to questions in the Dáil from Damien English TD (FG) the minister defended the level of government funding for drug programmes and the speed at which regional drugs task forces were being developed. He said that about 450 of the 8,000 people on methadone lived outside Dublin. ‘It takes time to extend services because not everyone can distribute methadone and it takes time to train doctors’, the minister said. Mr English said that, although €5 million had been allocated to the regional drugs task forces, that comprised less than €250,000 per county. Mr Ahern said that it takes time for the task forces to put their plans in place and some were moving more quickly than others. He pointed out that the government was spending €70 million a year on drug programmes.