Health Minister to meet drugs taskforce

Maeve McLaughlin MLA. (0404MM10)
Maeve McLaughlin MLA. (0404MM10)

Chairperson of the Assembly’s Health committee and Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Maeve McLaughlin has welcomed the news that the new Health Minister Jim Wells has agreed to meet the Derry addiction taskforce.

Chair of the Assembly’s Health committee Maeve McLaughlin said she received a letter from the Minister’s office saying he was “happy” to meet with the group which has been set-up to try and tackle the issue of drug addiction in the city.

“I am pleased to have received correspondence from the Minister that he is happy to meet with the recently established Derry addiction taskforce to discuss the rehabilitation services for under-16s in the Foyle area,” said Ms. McLaughlin.

Ms. McLaughlin went on to say that the issue of drug addiction was a priority for the new minister and suggested the meeting between Minister Wells and the taskforce could take place as early as the start of January 2015.

“Minister Wells also said that reducing the harms caused by substance abuse to individuals, families and communities is a key priority.

“It is hoped that meeting can be arranged at the earliest opportunity in the New Year.”

Ms. McLaughlin said the forming of the taskforce was a positive step towards tackling the problem of drug misuse and said that the best way to limiting the problem was early intervention.

“I very much welcomed the formation of taskforce in Derry earlier this year. It has brought together the relevant statutory bodies and services providers. The role of the taskforce will be to develop Derry’s proposal on the future of addiction services.

“What is required is an early intervention model that addresses the core reasons for addiction especially among our young people - no one should underestimate that challenge.”

The taskforce includes Western Health Trust, Public Health Agency, PSNI, WELB, Drug coordinating teams, as well as direct service providers from the community sector.