Fianna Fail criticised over ‘cruel, mocking’ post on drugs policy

Screengrab of the Fianna Fail Facebook post which highlighted recent hospital waiting figures. Photo: PA Wire
Screengrab of the Fianna Fail Facebook post which highlighted recent hospital waiting figures. Photo: PA Wire

A doctor specialising in addiction has called on Fianna Fail to confirm where it stands on drug-reduction policy after a post on the party’s social media caused outrage.

The main opposition party were forced to delete an official Facebook post criticising the Government’s drug reduction policy.

The post, which highlighted recent hospital waiting figures, read: “Let me get this straight. There are 100,000 (that’s one million folks) on the waiting lists and the HSE are running campaigns like this? Perhaps HSE Ireland #YouAreOnCrack”

The post has been widely criticised by drug treatment charities and rival politicians as cruel and misinformed.

Labour Senator Aodhan O Riordain has called on Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to apologise for the post, calling it “degrading and deliberately divisive”.

Dr Garrett McGovern, a GP specialising in addiction treatment, Priority Medical Clinic in Dundrum said the party should confirm to voters where they stand on drug reduction.

“I wouldn’t have deleted the post.

“I think it is important that people know where Fianna Fail stand on sensible drug policies and reducing drug-related harm.

“It is not clear who actually posted the comment or if it reflects the general views of Fianna Fail.

“Either way, the party should deny or confirm that they believe the reducing cocaine harm campaign is a waste of money and why they feel that way.”

Charity Release Drugs said the post was dismissive of a serious issue.

“Cruel, mocking statement, dismissive of a serious public health issue.

“Also categorically wrong, seeing as the provision of harm reduction advice saves lives and reduces drug harms, thereby reducing strain on emergency health services.”

Merchant’s Quay Ireland, who deal with those living with addiction in Dublin, said the post was disappointing.

“Lives are being lost needlessly, we’ve one of the highest rates of drug-related deaths. Harm reduction works.

“Original tweet suggests people who use drugs are unworthy of a harm-reduction campaign and is deeply disappointing.”

Later, the official Fianna Fail Twitter account replied to criticism by saying: “We are not saying it’s wrong.

“It’s the formulaic PR look of the campaign.

“How much thought did the HSE put in to this campaign?”

A Fianna Fail spokesperson said: “This morning’s tweet was posted by a junior member of staff and does not represent party policy.

“The error was quickly recognised and the offending tweet was deleted.”

The party added that official Fianna Fail submission to The National Drugs Strategy stated that more emphasis should be placed on prevention and education.

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