OP-ED: Ireland’s Drug Liberalization Reform

By Sarah O’Brien

Ireland is in the throes of a legislative drug reform aimed at helping rather than incarcerating drug users, writes Sarah O’Brien.

A new National Drug Strategy, launched last week, could see the Misuse of Drugs Act amended to exclude jail time for those caught with small quantities of drugs like heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

Backed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health, Simon Harris and Minister of State for Drugs, Catherine Byrne, the contentious proposal to decriminalise personal use of some of Class A drugs, has received mixed reactions from the media and wider public.

So, what does decriminalisation actually mean?

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, decriminalisation entails “the removal of all criminal penalties’ from acts relating to drug demand: acts of acquisition, possession, and consumption”.

Under current Irish legislation, persons found to be in possession of a controlled substance for personal use could face sentences of up to seven years. A class C fine of €2,500 can also be imposed at the Judge’s behest. Continue reading


Bereaved Mother Calls for Accurate and Sensitive Reporting of Murder Suicide Cases

Una Butler Cork

Pictured: Cork woman Una Butler, who lost her two children to a murder-suicide in 2010.

By Sarah O’Brien

Accuracy and sensitivity around the reporting of mental health issues and suicide has been called for by a Cork woman who lost her two children and husband to a murder-suicide.

Una Butler’s husband, John Butler, tragically took his own life and the lives of their young children Ella and Zoe at their home in Ballycotton, Co. Cork in 2010.

Speaking at symposium on media coverage of mental health stories, organised by the University of Limerick’s Journalism Department, Ms Butler stressed the importance of not shying away from or glamorising and sensationalising murder-suicide stories.

“I can understand that people just cannot comprehend or don’t want to read about it and that is why it is so important that, when murder-suicide cases are being reported on, it should be reported accurately and in a sensitive manner – no sensationalizing, no glamorizing of the events,” Ms Butler explained. Continue reading

Limerick Responds to Growing Appetite for Vegan and Vegetarian Menus

As Limerick responds to the growing appetite for vegan and vegetarian menu options, Limerick Voice reporter Sarah O’Brien explores what’s on offer in the Treaty city.

Veganism, a lifestyle promoting compassionate living but long dismissed as the preserve of crunchy counterculture hippies, is in vogue according to a new survey.

The latest figures from the Vegan Society show that veganism has grown by a whopping 360 percent in Britain over the past 10 years.

Of that figure almost half are between the ages of 15-42 with most dwelling in urban areas. Though there are no official stats for Ireland as of yet, if Britain’s are anything to go by, consumer demand is there and it’s growing at a phenomenal pace. Continue reading