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Wednesday, 18 August, 1999, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Extra 5.5m to tackle drug problem
Heroin crackdown led to arrests
Heroin was recovered in County Antrim in recent weeks
A cash injection of 5.5m to help step up the fight against drugs in Northern Ireland, has been announced by the government.

The additional investment, which will be made over the next two and half years, was revealed at the launch of a major anti-drugs strategy.

It comes after police mounted their biggest ever crackdown against the illicit drugs trade in the province.

Heroin, ecstasy and cannabis were discovered in County Antrim in recent weeks and resulted in a number of court appearances.

The seizures have also given rise to fears in Ballymena about the possibility of drug abusers contracting the Aids virus.

New initiative

Speaking at the launch of the new initiative, Northern Ireland Minister Adam Ingram, said it was a proactive scheme which highlights the government's commitment to drug prevention.

"While the level of drug abuse in Northern Ireland is not as acute as in other parts of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, there is no room for complacency," he said.

Adam Ingram:
Adam Ingram: "Government is committed to drug prevention"
"We accept that the treatment of those with drugs problems in Northern Ireland needs further development.

"But above all we want to stop people reaching the stage where they need treatment.

"This means giving relevant, practical advice and information with easier access to facilities and factual information on the dangers of drug abuse."

The strategy is a culmination of 15 months of work following consultation with many agencies, groups, young people and parents.

Its overall aim is to reduce drug related harm in Northern Ireland and will look at four key areas - young people, communities, treatment, availability.

Area boards

Four drugs co-ordination teams have been set up, one in each of the four area health boards in the province.

Their role is to co-ordinate activities of all agencies at a local level towards special local drugs problems.

Elaine Moore of the Northern Drugs Co-Ordination Team, said links between serious diseases and drugs were being treated seriously by the authorities.

"It is widely acknowledged that there is a link between the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C and injecting drug use," she said.

See also:

05 Aug 99 | Northern Ireland
07 Aug 99 | Northern Ireland
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