Voluntary Assistance Scheme Presents Draft Legislation to Ana Liffey Drug Project

21 May 2015

Tony Duffin, Director, Ana Liffey Drug Project, Diane Duggan BL, Co-ordinator Voluntary Assistance Scheme and Emily Egan SC, launching the draft legislation

The Bar Council’s Voluntary Assistance Scheme (VAS) presented draft legislation to Ana Liffey Drug Project and Minister with responsibility for National Drugs Strategy, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, which would, if enacted, establish a legal framework within which a medically supervised injecting centre could operate in Ireland.

In June 2014, VAS was approached by Ana Liffey Drug Project to assist them by drafting a piece of legislation with the aim of introducing medically supervised injection units as part of their strategic aims.  VAS co-ordinator Diane Duggan BL brought together a Legislative Drafting Committee which is comprised of Chairperson Emily Egan SC, Bernard Condon SC, Marcus Keane BL, Rebecca Broderick BL, Rebecca Graydon BL and Brendan Savage BL. 

Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Ana Liffey Drugs Project Director Tony Duffin pictured with members of the Bar Council legislative drafting committee

The Ana Liffey Drug Project says medically supervised injection centres are already used in more than 90 countries around the world, and have been proven to assist in the reduction of crime, anti-social behaviour and public injecting.

Tony Duffin, Director, Ana Liffey Drug Project said that it is hoped that the draft legislation presented to the Minister for Drugs will enable him to move forward with an initiative which will provide much needed support for some of the most vulnerable members of society;

 “The Ana Liffey Project has been working with individuals who are experiencing problem substance use since 1982. We are ideally positioned to advise and inform legislation on issues surrounding drug abuse but as a registered charity our ability to commission the services of legal professionals is limited,” explained Mr Duffin.

The Voluntary Assistance Scheme (VAS) is the official Pro Bono scheme of the Bar of Ireland. VAS makes the services of barristers available on a voluntary basis to charities, NGOs and civic society organisations and the clients of such organisations. 

Press conference held in Bar Council offices, Church Street

Speaking at the press conference held in Bar Council offices, VAS Co-ordinator Diane Duggan BL said “Central to the work of the Bar Council’s Voluntary Assistance Scheme is the absolute belief that every voice should be heard.  Ana Liffey Drug Project is but one example of a project in which the scheme has assisted- the scheme strives to empower organisations to make a difference through the law”. “The legislation has been drafted by a committee of seven experienced legal professionals who have expertise in legislative drafting, medico-legal issues and criminal law and the Minister can be confident that it has been subject to rigorous scrutiny,” she said.