Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today said that “apologies will not bring people back” as he responded to comments from the First Minister admitting that her government had taken its "eye off the ball" on Scotland's drug deaths crisis.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader was the only MSP to appeal for a rethink during the final parliamentary stage of the SNP's 2016 budget that delivered a devastating 22% cut to alcohol and drug partnership budgets.
Today he has accused the SNP of a record of neglect.
Mr Rennie said:
“More than 4,250 people died drug-related deaths since the last time we had an election. At that election I pleaded with the First Minister to reverse her cuts to alcohol and drug partnership budgets.
“Apologies won’t bring people back. I warned that this was a mistake.
"The tragic truth is that Scottish ministers didn’t see drug reform as a vote winner - their Justice Secretary of 7 years admitted it. That's what happens when your priorities lie elsewhere.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats will put recovery first. We will reduce the misery of drug abuse with compassion and health treatment rather than prosecution. After years of being told no, Scottish Liberal Democrats have just won cross-party agreement for that important principle.
"Now we're putting forward further plans for new specialist drug and alcohol commissions learning from the Portuguese model, heroin assisted treatment and safe consumption spaces, and a principle that individuals and families shouldn't have to pay for the treatment of those at risk of death."