Shane Butler (Emeritus Fellow, Trinity College Dublin)

Introduction — Accidental Drug Worker

Key themes — public housing, community drug problems, the need for new legislation and reinvestment into communities.

1: No red lines in Ballyfermot 

Ballyfermot during the 50s–70s: the estate’s scarce facilities, the efforts of local people, to become self-organised.

2: Working with where people are at

Community work in Ballyfermot Playground in 1975; social work studies in Trinity College (1976-80).

3: Heroin in the south inner city

A social worker in early 1980s during the heroin crisis, engagement with community leaders and state bodies.

4: Abstinence model for managing drug problems

The influence of the US ‘just say no’, ‘war on drugs’ and the ‘abstinence model’ in Ireland’s official 1980s response.

5: A community fights back

The Concerned Parents Against Drugs St Teresa’s Gardens in 1983, the group’s first activities, and impact on residents.

6: A doomed youth project, 1983–85

The short-lived Youth Development Programme (1982-87), and the restrictions placed on the project’s outreach model.

7: Community and political conflict

Conflicts arising from residents caught in the crossfire between criminals, paramilitarism, and criticisms of local actions.

8: Community model for managing drug problems

The Ana Liffey Drug Project, where author worked1989–92 as a backdrop to the emergence of a community model.

9: Not all plain sailing for task forces

An assessment of progress of drug task forces: their successes, shortcomings and future challenges.

10: Changing ‘unchangeable’ drug laws

Reflecting on various policy debates throughout his career, the author advocates an end to prohibition.

11: Re-imagining and strengthening community

The author reflects on community development and advocates for a substantial investment into grassroots community bodies.

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