Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jul 2000
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2000 The Irish Times
Contact:  11-15 D'Olier St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Fax: + 353 1 671 9407
Author: Kitty Holland


The rescinding of the Public Order Act to allow anti-drugs marches and
reform of the Garda Complaints Board are among the measures
recommended in a policy document from one of the State's largest
anti-drugs organisations.

"Facing The Future: Policy 2000", published by the Coalition Of Communities
Against Drugs (COCAD), was launched in Dublin last night by Minister of
State Mr Eoin Ryan, who is chairman of the National Drugs Strategy.

Founded in 1996, COCAD is an umbrella organisation of community-based,
anti-drugs groups.

The document places heavy emphasis on the role of local community
groups in tackling the drugs problem and is in places highly critical
of Government policy. It describes as "unacceptable" that "the
communities most seriously affected by the problem of drug abuse
should not be represented on the Government Advisory Committee on Drugs.

"The record of COCAD in highlighting and articulating the concerns of
these communities entitles it to representation."

It says the Government-established local drugs task forces have made
"little progress ... developing integrated, strategic approaches to
the drugs problem at local level and the extent to which inter-agency
co-operation has been enhanced is questionable".

Elements of Garda policy on tackling local drugs problems are
described as a "disservice to affected communities" while the
dispersal of drug sellers "through low-level enforcement" could be
beneficial, it maintains.

Mr Ryan said he would not respond to individual recommendations at
last night's event. "I can assure you, however, that all the areas
covered in the policy document are being addressed in the review of
the National Drugs Strategy, which I hope to have completed in the

The document says the democratic accountability of the Garda Siochana
"needs to be addressed", adding that effective policing required
community support. In this light, it recommends an "urgent reform of
the Garda Complaints Board, which enjoys little credibility in our

COCAD says it recognises the contribution methadone maintenance can
make to stabilising an addict but stresses that methadone-based
treatment should not be seen as an end in itself. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: John Chase