Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 25 - Drugs dealing [35382/14].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 25 - Drugs dealing [35382/14]. (24 Sep 2014)

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25. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the additional enforcement measures she will introduce to reduce the centralised open street selling of prescription tablets in Dublin city centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35382/14] 

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I do appreciate the issue of concern which the Deputy has raised.

I am aware that the practice of Illegal Street selling of prescription medicines, including benzodiazepines, has been acknowledged as a problem in the Dublin city centre area.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the deployment of Garda personnel and Garda operations in tackling such activity.

In this regard, I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are a number of targeted operations being conducted in the Dublin city centre area which are actively combating anti-social and drugs activity. These operations utilise a high visibility presence to intensively police identified areas so as to prevent and disrupt the activities of persons involved in the commission of anti-social behaviour, drug use and/or drug dealing offences.

These operations include Operation Pier, which concentrates on the South Quays and Temple Bar area. This operation includes the designation of certain areas as "hotspots" for anti-social behaviour and regular uniformed and plain clothes patrols. Other Garda operations in the city centre include Operation Spire which is focussed on the O’Connell Street and North Inner City areas, and Operation Stilts which is an ongoing overt policing operation targeting anti-social behaviour and drug-related crime in Dublin city centre locations.

I am also informed that in tackling the illicit trade in prescription medicines, An Garda Síochána continues to work closely with all of the relevant State agencies tasked with the enforcement of Misuse of Drugs legislation and Medicines legislation including the Revenue Customs Service and the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

I can also advise the Deputy that the Department of Health, in consultation with relevant stakeholders including my Department, is reviewing the Misuse of Drugs Regulations with a view to introducing additional controls on certain prescription drugs being traded illicitly, such as benzodiazepines and z-drugs medicines as deemed necessary, bearing in mind the need to maintain their legitimate use as appropriate. These additional controls include introducing import and export controls, tighter prescribing and dispensing controls as well as an offence of possession, thereby assisting the law enforcement roles of Revenue Customs Service and An Garda Síochána.

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