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Varadkar welcomes appointment of junior minister for drugs strategy

He said there is “a lot of merit” in such a cross-departmental appointment, due to the “significant overlap between Health and Justice in this area, ranging from treatment and prevention to enforcement and diversion”.

The new role will bring together the work and actions of the HSE and Gardai among others, he said.

The Department of Health has just started work on the new National Drugs Strategy.

According to Minister Varadkar, funding of €2.1 million has been allocated in 2015 to provide more residential treatment and rehabilitation places, more needle-exchanges and the Naloxone pilot project.

He added: “I have also ended the cycle of cuts in funding for Local Drugs and Alcohol Taskforces. The HSE will shortly launch a pilot project to make Naloxone available to opiate users in an effort to reduce deaths from overdose. The Oversight Forum for Drugs continues to meet and its latest meeting takes place this week.

“Clearly the drugs issue remains a major challenge, particularly in urban areas but also in rural parts. I wish Aodhán the very best in his new role. I know that he is committed to the equality agenda and has an excellent track record of community work.

“This new post will only work if everyone rallies behind the new Minister. And I for one intend to do so and give my fullest support.”

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