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Poots to meet PSNI to discuss recent drugs-related deaths

Health Minister Edwin Poots will today meet with the PSNI and representative from community action groups to discuss recent incidents where drugs have been linked to a number of deaths.
Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Minister will be seeking an update from the PSNI on what is being done to prevent illegal substances being brought into Northern Ireland and the work being undertaken to tackle drug dealing.

Mr Poots will be joined at the meeting with representatives from FASA (Forum for Alcohol and Substance Abuse), ASCERT (Action on Substances through Community Education and Related Training).

Mr Poots said: “We need a coordinated and protective response to prevent tragedies like the ones we have seen in recent weeks. I am keen to ensure that groups like FASA and ASCERT can use their influence in the community to work closely with the PSNI in the fight against drugs.

“FASA and ASCERT are to be commended for the vital work they have undertaken at local level on this issue and I am keen to continue engagement with community groups to tackle this problem, which brings misery to so many people and their families.”

The Minister concluded: “Substance misuse can have a very real and damaging effect on people’s physical health and wellbeing, as well as their mental health, relationships, family, friends and community.

“As Health Minister, I have seen all too frequently the devastating impact that substance misuse can have on our society – from the health and social care system, to the economy and the criminal justice sector.

“We need to remember that every drug-related death is an individual tragedy, and my thoughts are with the families of those individuals affected.”

Notes to editors:

  1. There have been reports of a number of incidents across Northern Ireland that may be related to drug misuse – the Minister called a meeting with key stakeholders to ensure this is dealt with in a co-ordinated way.
  2. FASA (Forum for Alcohol and Substance Abuse) and ASCERT (Action on Substances through Community Education and Related Training) operate a community support service (known as CAST or Community Action Support Team for Drugs and Alcohol) in East Belfast to support the community to address issues in relation to alcohol and drug misuse.
  3. While there has been concern expressed about “Green Rolex Tablets” in particular – many different ecstasy type substances may have been involved and people should be aware of the dangers associated with all these substances.
  4. Media enquiries about this press release to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0074. Out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.