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Home > 58. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the growth in crack cocaine and crystal meths abuse; and the steps he has taken to address this. [14967/07]

[Oireachtas] 58. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the growth in crack cocaine and crystal meths abuse; and the steps he has taken to address this. [14967/07]. (24 Apr 2007)

External website: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2007/04/24/00036...


63. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the spread of crack cocaine in urban Ireland; if his attention has been drawn to recent reports that crack cocaine could potentially spread to increasing numbers of cities and towns; the efforts he has made to combat the spread of crack cocaine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15000/07]

Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Mr. N. Ahern): I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 63 together. I am aware of the dangers that crack cocaine and crystal meth use can pose in terms of their potential to add hugely to the harm caused to individuals, families and communities. However, I am informed by the Garda authorities that, while there has been an increase in the number of seizures of crack cocaine over the past two years or so, this represents a small proportion of the total number of cocaine seizures recorded annually. They further inform me that crystal meth is currently not a major feature of the Irish drugs market and that only very small quantities of the drug have been seized to date. Also, it is worth noting that in my visits to various Drugs Task Force areas in the past year or so, these drugs did not arise to any great extent in my discussions with community representatives and others on the nature of the drug problem in their areas. At the same time, vigilance is necessary in regard to crack cocaine and crystal meth and the Garda Authorities have taken a number of measures to address the matter. In this context, I understand that the National Drugs Unit, as well as local drug units, conduct intelligence gathering on individuals and groups suspected of involvement in the sale and distribution of drugs such as these. There is also targeted patrolling by uniform and plain-clothes personnel of potential problem areas in order to detect and disrupt persons involved in such activity. I am not aware of any specific studies on the use of crack cocaine being carried out in Ireland. The only available figures on prevalence come from the joint 2002/2003 Drug Prevalence Survey. That survey showed that the use of crack cocaine was very low at that time — 0.3% reported lifetime use; 0.1% reported use in the previous 12 months and there were no positive respondents in relation to last month use. However, a new Drug Prevalence Study is currently underway with fieldwork due to be completed in early May. Preliminary analysis will be done in the months following that, with the first report of national prevalence figures and trends expected in the latter part of 2007. This will give an up-to-date picture of overall problem drug use in Ireland. In addition, I understand that funding has been provided by the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform for a study into the nature and extent of crack cocaine use in Dublin. A researcher has recently commenced work on this and it is hoped that the work will be completed early in 2008. In relation to crystal meth, it is worth noting that the Drug Treatment Centre Board has not recorded any case of a person presenting for treatment in relation to its use. However, as it is used in the UK, the Gardaí are particularly aware of the risks involved and are closely monitoring the situation. Vol. 636 No. 1 Written Answers Tuesday, 24 April 2007

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