Warfield welcomes Minister’s statement on drug-safety testing at music festivals

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed confirmation from the government that a stakeholder-led working group will be convened by the Department of Health to examine the provision of drug safety testing at music festivals and nightclubs in 2019.

Senator Warfield said:

“During a commencement debate today with Minister Catherine Byrne on the subject of drug safety testing, the Minister confirmed that a commitment to establish a working group to investigate best-practice in drug safety testing will commence in 2019.

“According to Eurobarometer poll in 2014, use of psychoactive drugs in this state among 15-24 year olds is the highest in Europe. This has become apparent at our music festivals where the use of MDMA, ecstasy, ketamine and cocaine are all common.

Sinn Féin launch electoral and voting reform document

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Youth Affairs Senator Fintan Warfield has launched a new party policy calling for reform of the electoral and voter registration system.

‘Enhancing Democracy’ contains a number of different initiatives that a Sinn Féin government would undertake in order to encourage and foster active electoral participation across all of society.

Senator Warfield said:

“’Enhancing Democracy’ sets out how we believe the state should engage young and first time voters, as well as radical proposals that will widen electoral participation across all of society.

“The activism of young people in recent referenda is evidence that when engaged, young people demonstrate interest in participating in the political process. This is despite the obstacles that exist, including a lack of formal education, promotion and difficulties in registering to vote.

Harm reduction services at festivals should include drug-safety testing

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Youth Affairs, the Arts and LGBT rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has today commended the Ana Liffey Drug Project and Electric Picnic who will facilitate a harm-reduction service at Stradbally this weekend.

Senator Warfield said;

“The provision of educational materials on drugs and alcohol, as well as one-to-one advice and referrals are an important part of a health-led response to drug and alcohol use – but we can do more.

“Harm-reduction services at festivals should be allowed to include confidential drug safety testing facilities for festival goers who consider using drugs.

“Sinn Féin believe that the success of harm-reduction initiatives abroad that offer confidential drug safety testing at music festivals confirm the need for similar initiatives at Irish music festivals.

Review of Relationships and Sexuality Education welcome, but must include young people with disabilities

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the arts, youth affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the announcement today that the Department of Education and Skills has ordered a review of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in schools.

This review has been stated to include LGBTQ+ aspects of the curriculum as well as modules on consent and contraception.

Senator Warfield said:

“The review announced today is sorely needed. It has become apparent in recent months being reflected in the ancillary recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly, Joint Committee on the 8th Amendment and is the top priority of the LGBTI+ Youth Strategy.

Fianna Fáil defy their own policy to reject Sinn Féin’s ‘Vote at 16’ bill

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts, Youth Affairs and LGBTQI rights, Senator Fintan Warfield has condemned the Fianna Fáil party, as for the second time, they have voted to scupper the Electoral (Amendment) (Voting at 16) Bill 2016.

The bill seeks to lower the voting age to 16 for local and European elections. This is despite Fianna Fáil holding a policy that explicitly states they support the voting age being reduced to 16 for the 2019 local elections.

Senator Warfield said:

“I entirely condemn the actions taken by Fianna Fáil today. They submitted amendments that would make ‘Votes at 16’ an impossibility for the 2019 local and European elections. 

Legislation to lower the voting age returns to the Seanad tomorrow

Sinn Féin spokesperson for youth affairs, Senator Fintan Warfield will reintroduce legislation for committee stage in the Seanad tomorrow [Wednesday, 21st March] that seeks to lower the voting age to sixteen in Local and European elections.

The Bill was first debated in the Seanad in March 2017 when Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voted to delay its progress until this year.

Senator Warfield said:

“I look forward to bringing this legislation back to the Seanad in the hope that it can be enacted before the 2019 Local and European elections, in order to allow up to 120,000 young people aged 16 and 17 years to have their say on the future of Europe and the direction of local democracy.