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Home > 44. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on reports of 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 here; the efforts he has made to combat the spread of crack cocaine. [20958/07]

[Oireachtas] 44. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on reports of 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 here; the efforts he has made to combat the spread of crack cocaine. [20958/07]. (27 Sep 2007)

External website: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2007/09/27/00047...


Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Pat Carey): I am aware of the dangers that crack cocaine use can pose in terms of the potential harm it can cause to individuals, families and communities. I am also aware of the risk that crack cocaine could potentially spread to increasing numbers of cities and towns here. 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. Also, it is worth noting that in my visits to various Drugs Task Force areas since my appointment in June, the issue of crack cocaine 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 undoubtedly necessary and the Gardaí continue to take a number of measures to address the matter. In this context,

 I understand that the Garda 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. Also, targeted patrolling by uniform and plain-clothes personnel of potential problem areas is undertaken in order to detect and disrupt persons involved in such activity. The most up to date figures on prevalence come from the 2002/2003 All-Island 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 second Drug Prevalence Study has recently been carried out and the first report on national prevalence figures and trends is expected later this year. The outcome of this study will give an up-to-date picture of overall problem drug use in Ireland. In addition, I understand that a research study into the nature and extent of crack cocaine use in Dublin is currently being undertaken by the Alcohol and Drug Research Unit (ADRU) of the Health Research Board. The study is being funded by the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform and it is hoped that the work will be completed early in 2008.

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