Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 309 - Drugs crime [44300/14]

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 309 - Drugs crime [44300/14]. (18 Nov 2014)

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309. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views that the justice system is fit for the purpose of dealing with the city’s drug problem (details supplied). [44300/14] 

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Tackling the issue of drug misuse in our society remains one of the most complex challenges that we face. The Government response to the problem is set out in the National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009-2016. The Strategy provides a co-ordinated and comprehensive response to the issue of drug misuse, founded on a partnership approach. 

The Strategy, which is being delivered under the stewardship of my colleague Minister for Health, Mr. Leo Varadkar T.D., adopts a pillar based approach to the problem, involving the implementation of a wide range of measures across the five pillars of drug supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. I can assure the Deputy that my Department and its agencies continue to actively participate in all of the structures in place under the Strategy and will continue with the ongoing implementation of all actions related to the criminal justice sector as set out in the Strategy. 

More generally, with regard to the issue of anti-social behaviour in Dublin city I would refer the Deputy to my response earlier today to Parliamentary Question No. 91 in which I outlined the current position regarding action being taken to deal with concerns raised regarding the safety of the city centre. 

In relation to the question of sentencing, as the Deputy will appreciate, judges are independent in the matter of sentencing, as in other matters concerning the exercise of judicial functions, subject only to the Constitution and the law. The approach of the Oireachtas has generally been to specify in law a maximum penalty for an offence, so that a court, having considered all the circumstances of a case, may impose an appropriate penalty up to that maximum. The court is required to impose a sentence which is proportionate not only to the crime but to the individual offender, in that process identifying where on the sentencing range the particular case should lie and then applying any mitigating factors which may be present.

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