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Home > Seanad Eireann debate. Organised crime (Continued).

[Oireachtas] Seanad Eireann debate. Organised crime (Continued). (28 Jan 2015)


Deputy Simon Harris: I thank Senator Heffernan for raising this Commencement matter. I am speaking on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality who sends her apologies that she is not able to be present here today due to other business. The Minister has asked me to thank the Senator for raising this very important issue. The Senator has raised issues concerning cross-Border co-operation between our own Garda Síochána and the PSNI. Trusting it is agreeable to him, I will ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to revert directly to him on that specific question. More generally I am informed that the level of co-operation between the PSNI and the Garda Síochána is at an all-time high. I will ask the Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald to revert to the Senator on the issues of cross-Border co-operation and global co-operation, to which he also referred.

 

Organised crime activity has serious consequences for the well-being of our communities and, more broadly, for the well-being and proper functioning of society. It affects all sections in society, whether it is the community struggling with the effects of drug misuse and the violence it brings with it, the businesses undermined by the black market economy and the workers who have lost their jobs because legitimate businesses are failing, or the public services that have to be curtailed because taxes and duties are avoided. The Minister has asked me to assure the House of the continued commitment of the Garda Síochána to tackling organised criminality in all of its guises. The Garda Síochána continues to vigorously tackle organised crime through a range of activities designed to disrupt and dismantle the operations of criminal organisations. This involves targeting serious criminals and organised criminal groups on a number of fronts, including through the use of focused intelligence-led operations by specialist units including the organised crime unit, the Garda national drugs unit, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau. In addition, the Garda Síochána has strong and strategic partnerships in place at national and international level in targeting cross-Border criminality and transnational criminal groupings.

 

The Minister has asked me to assure the House that this approach is yielding results and that we are continuing to see Garda successes in tackling organised criminal activity both at home and abroad. For example, arising from this work drug seizures valued at approximately €62 million were made by the Garda Síochána during 2014. This does not include the well-publicised joint operation involving the Garda Síochána, Revenue Customs Service and the Naval Service, which led to the interception of a yacht off Ireland's south west coast last September containing cocaine with an estimated street value at the time of over €70 million. This operation reflects the investment made by those agencies in building strong and strategic partnerships at international level, including those formed as part of Ireland's participation in the maritime analysis and operational centre for narcotics based in Lisbon. More recently, as part of an ongoing operation earlier this month in the north Dublin area, drugs were seized with an estimated value of just under €0.5 million.

 

Such drug seizures play a critical role in disrupting the ability of organised crime groups to carry out their illegal activities. Of course, these are just some examples of the work of the Garda Síochána in what is an ongoing effort. In addition, the legislation underpinning the work of the Garda Síochána is being kept under review so as to ensure that the necessary investigative tools are at the disposal of the Garda. Most recently, the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014, which provides for the establishment and operation of the DNA database, has been a very significant development and considerably enhances the investigative tools being made available to the Garda.

 

On behalf of the Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald, I assure the House of the continued commitment of the Garda Síochána and this Government to tackling organised crime. Senators can be assured of the full support of the Government in this regard.

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