Gary Donnelly on panel for Derry drug decriminalisation talk

A public talk will discuss the issue of drug use and addiction in Derry on Wednesday with the organisers saying a ‘new approach’ is needed by governments north and south.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 1:58 pm
Gary Donnelly.

Caolán Doherty, who has spoken out about mental health issues in the past, and who is a spokesperson for organisers Lasair Dhearg, argues that “the current strategy implemented by both governments has failed us all”.

“That strategy is focused on approaching drug use from a legal perspective, with significant resources funneled through the policing and justice system, criminalising those suffering from addiction.”

Mr. Doherty said: “We are arguing that those billions in pounds and euros should instead be channelled through the respective health systems here, alongside the complete decriminalisation of all drugs in order to do that.

“We know that, as a Socialist Republican organisation, this may not be an easy conversation for everybody to have, but we also know that this issue has only been getting worse in recent years. Almost 1 in 5 people suffer from a mental health condition across Ireland, and of those that do, 3.5% self-medicate.”

Mr. Doherty said Lasair Dhearg believes the Portuguese model of decriminalisation and approaching the issue of drugs from a health perspective is the way forward.

“The consequences for Portugal have been significant to say the least, with massive reductions in drug use and addiction in recent years.”

The event will take place on Wednesday from 6.30pm in the Maldron Hotel. The panel will include Councillor Gary Donnelly, Frankie Healy, and Nicola Nic Gabhann, speaking on behalf of Lasair Dhearg.