Jim Corr

Jim Corr, Chairman of ECAD Advisory Board
 
Addressing the 13-th Mayors Conference
Vilnius
June 1-2, 2006

 

Rt. Honorable Mayor of Vilnius,
H. E. The President of Iceland,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honour and pleasure to address the 13th Annual Mayors’ Conference of the ”European Cities Against Drugs” organisation.

As Chairman of the Advisory Board, it is important that I should be in a position to report, not only on the efficient management of the Organisation and that its income and expenditure is carefully scrutinised on a quarterly basis but also that ECAD is vibrant and certainly not an organisation in a rut.
The meetings of the Advisory Board are stimulating, soul-searching and its members are driven by the desire to help, in whatever we can, our Member Cities as they strive, on a daily basis, to cope with the injurious consequences affecting people who succumb to the cajoling drug barons and their side-kicks.
The Advisory Board is continually reappraising its approach to the multitude of problems for individuals, families and communities brought about by the abuse of drugs.
I fully realise that it would be the dearest wish of every Mayor during his/her term of office, to significantly reduce the harm caused to individuals and society arising from a misuse of drugs.

To achieve such a result, there must be concerted focus on supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research.
These four themes must be the four pillars of a city’s anti-drug strategy. It is imperative that a city should at certain intervals assess:
has it got an integrated and well-managed response to the illicit drug trade across its entire community?
how effective are the city’s service-interventions based on the four pillars – supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research?
is the city ensuring that responses are monitored and evaluated according to best practice and value for money principles?

We in ECAD are fully aware of the fact that drug abuse/misuse is not a new issue in our cities but, unfortunately, increasing numbers of young people have drug-related problems which may ultimately rob them of their dignity and condemn them to live out unhappy, purposeless lives.
People and their welfare are at the core of ECAD’s existence and activities.
It is time for every public representative in our European cities to acknowledge the terrible effects of drug-abuse and to search for and implement, solutions to rid our continent of this destroying malady.
We must spread the word amongst our fellow public representatives and community activists that it is in the best interest of people – our constituents, that drug problems must be dealt with effectively at both policy level and at the level of service delivery.
Every politician here today knows that there is a drug problem in some parts or perhaps all of his/her city. But we cannot sit on our hands and hope that it will pass.

We must strengthen and build-up to protective factors NOW that will assist communities, families and individuals to deal with substance misuse in the future.
If we know, for example, that poor socio-economic status is associated with substance abuse, then it is necessary to ensure that we employ proactive social policies that redress economic inequities, improve access to education, provide employment, enable access to good-quality housing and support overall improvement of peoples’ quality of life, as these are known protective factors that can reduce the incidence of drug abuse/misuse.
No one agency can tackle all the drug related problems on its own, but working together, we can employ joint planning and forward thinking to achieve ”shared solutions” and integrated service planning that will address the drug problem early and hopefully reduce the harmful impact of drug abuse.

In this regard, I would respectfully ask the mayors present this morning to consider establishing a Drug Task Force in their cities. Such a group would be composed of representatatives from the Police, the Customs & Excise, the health services, the education sector, youth services and the training agencies and community activists. This would be a dedicated core team of people who would drive the development of projects; monitor and evaluate anti-drug initiatives and provide administration support for voluntary effort.
The task force members and the agencies they represent need, of course, to agree shared values and agree a joint work programme that complements the plans and activities of their individual agencies.
Finally, I would appeal to mayors to consider how adequate are the treatment facilities in your city for drug addicts?
Treatment must be a vital part of the city’s response to unfortunate people who have been hooked or addicted to drugs, a vital service not only for the individual affected, but also for families and communities.

I would define treatment as any activity targeted at people who have problems with substance abuse and which aims to improve the psychological, medical and social state of individuals who seek help for their problems.
The growing evidence for the cost-effectiviness of addiction treatment must be acknowledged and acted upon.
The Irish College of Psychiatrists, in a report published last year stated: -
”If properly resourced and comprehensive treatment services were provided, Irish taxpayers could expect a ten-fold return on their investment in terms of lower utilisation of other health services, reduced criminal activity, decreased dependence on social welfare and increased work productivity”.

The illicit drug-market can be understood as incorporating three inter-related levels or dimensions:

  1. the global or ”international market” incorporates drug-production and international trafficking;

  2. the ”middle-market” involves the importation and wholesale distribution of drugs at a national level

  3. the ”local market” involves distribution at a retail level i.e. in our cities.

The United Nations office on Drugs and Crime, estimates that the value of the global illicit drug market for 2003 was:
US $ 13 billion at production level
$ 94 billion at wholesale level and,
$ 322 billion at local retail level.
It has been claimed that after oil and arms, the illicit drug market is now the most profitable in the world. Indeed, combating drugs is a world challenge.

Yes, we have taken on an enormous problem and the only way to combat this globally organised conspiracy against people is to educate people about horrific consequences assosiated with experimenting with illicit drugs and thus destroy the market for the evil people who promote it.
I would recommend that at this 13th Mayors’ Conference, held in the historic city of Vilnius, ECAD reaffirms its determination to address the harm caused to individuals and society by drug-abuse through a concerted focus on supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research.

Martin Luther King once said:
”It is better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness”.

I believe that ECAD over the past thirteen years has been helping to light little candles throughout our European homeland bringing the light of knowledge and information to many vulnerable people and bringing hope to some others experiencing the personal devastation of drug addiction.
Let us continue to fight the good fight.

 
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