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Misuse of Drugs Act - Supporting Senators Ruane & ORiordáin

I commend my colleagues, Senators Ó Riordáin and Ruane, on these amendments. I really feel that we need to consider this issue fully. Senator Ó Ríordáin, when last in office, worked closely with those working in the field of addiction. We can see that in the fantastic work he has done. Senator Ruane has worked in the field of addiction and has done fantastic work and I work in the field of addiction also. I work with families daily. Mothers, fathers, grannies, brothers, sisters, adult children and people like the Minister of State are devastated when watching their loved ones go down the route of self-destruction and addiction. The heartbreak I deal with daily is horrendous. Now we are trying to criminalise these family members. It is awful. Are we to criminalise the loved ones of those who come to me pleading and asking about services? They ask where they can get help for their sons, fathers, daughters or grandchildren. What we are saying here is that we should just put them in prison. It is horrendous.

I worked with a group of women in the Dóchas prison who were trying to step from addiction into recovery. None of these women - they all said it to me - would have been in there only for their addiction. They do not want to be in there. Children do not say that when they grow up they want to be in prison or suffering from addiction. No one says that. This is not something people choose.

Will the Minister of State look at this as a public health issue? I implore her to consider these amendments. It is vital that we think of the families. We have to consider them. I ask the Minister of State to show compassion. She is a mother and a grandmother. I ask her to please listen to what we are saying. Three of us have worked in the field of addiction. Will she please listen to us? We know what it is like.

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