Help Not Harm
Help Not Harm is a campaign calling on political parties to support drug decriminalisation in the 2016 General Elections in Ireland. Help Not Harm recognises that the current approach to drugs in Ireland is not working. Drug-related deaths are 47 per million per year in Ireland, three times the EU average. There should be a shift towards a public health response to drugs such as in Portugal where the number of drug-related deaths is 3 post-decriminalisation.
The campaign was launched by Paul Birch, founder of Bebo, and members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy in August 2015. It has been featured in RTÉ Radio One, Today FM, thejournal.ie, Newstalk, Irish Independent and Evening Echo.
My responsibilities includes the launch of the website, social media and brand creation. Through media I have acted as spokesperson to the campaign. In order to continuously expand our network, I provide outreach by connecting multi-stakeholders to contribute towards the goals of the campaign and allow for better collaboration and exchange of resources.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy Ireland
After initiating a local civil rights campaign around drug policy reform as a college student, I was provided a scholarship to participate in a conference in Denver by SSDP in 2012 where I was elected as the first ever international board member.
At this time the organisation sought to expand it’s presence internationally. Being based outside of the USA, I could help the organisation to realise this goal and I established SSDP societies in University College Cork and National University of Ireland, Galway. I founded the International Outreach Committee and recruited students all over the world to work on the organisation’s international presence. During my term I helped to expand the number of active international chapters by leading open webinars, university talks with experts including Dr. Joao Goulao and organising conferences such as the 1st SSDP Ireland conference. Some of the places where I have presented and worked with SSDP include Colorado, The George Washington University, United Nations (Vienna), University of Toronto, National University of Ireland Galway, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork.
I represented the organisation as a consultant to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2013 and 2014 in Vienna, Austria. Here I led a panel discussion among leading figures of civil society, policy-makers and nation state delegates. Student attendance at the U.N. was nonexistent within the organisation when I began and I directly registered seven students as consultants and secured university scholarships for them to attend. It was my opinion that international politics was lacking a youth voice and I succeeded in making a change and setting a precedent at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime for more youth attendance.
Support Don’t Punish
“Support, Don’t Punish” is a campaign launched in 10 cities in Ireland in 2014 & 2015 as part of an international awareness campaign to change drug policy. The global campaign aims to change drug policies from a criminal issue to a public health issue.
In Dublin 2015, Senator James Heffernan and Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin spoke at the event and declared his support for decriminalisation of all drugs and for the Support Don’t Punish campaign. Other supporters worldwide include Richard Branson and Kofi Annan.