Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 325 - Garda deployment [7868/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 325 - Garda deployment [7868/15]. (24 Feb 2015)

325. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her responsibilities in the area of addressing the misuse of drugs here; the number of staff that are assigned in her Department for tackling the illegal use of drugs; the actions she has taken since becoming Minister to address the drugs problem here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7870/15]


326. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when she last held a meeting with the Garda Commissioner to discuss actions to tackle the misuse of drugs here; when she last met with the Department of Health to review same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7871/15]


327. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the budget her Department has, to tackle the illegal use of drugs here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7872/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 325 to 327, inclusive, together.


As the Deputy will be aware, the national response to the problem of drug misuse is set out in the National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009-2016.


The Strategy adopts a comprehensive and pillar based approach to the problem, across the five pillars of drug supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. The Strategy is founded on a partnership approach with Government Departments, Agencies and the Community and Voluntary sectors working collectively to tackle the problem.   The Strategy is being led out under the stewardship of my colleague the Minister for Health Mr. Leo Varadkar T.D. who chairs the Oversight Forum on Drugs under which the implementation of the Strategy is monitored.


My Department and its agencies continue to progress the actions assigned to the criminal justice sector under the National Strategy and to actively participate in all of the structures in place under the Strategy, including for example, the Oversight Forum, the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol and the National Co-ordinating Committee on Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces.


Of course, that Strategy will now fall to be reviewed and Minister Vardakar was recently in contact with me to flag the development of the National Drugs Strategy post 2016 in respect of which planning has already begun in the Department of Health.


My Department also actively contributes to relevant international drugs policy fora, in partnership with the Departments of Health and Foreign Affairs and Trade, including the EU Horizontal Working Party on Drugs and the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.


I can assure the Deputy that I meet on a regular basis with the Garda Commissioner concerning law enforcement matters generally which would include drugs related issues. Just last December, I met with the Garda Commissioner , other senior Garda officers and senior officials from my Department and relevant agencies to further develop responses to particular concerns regarding drug dealing and anti-social behaviour manifesting in the Dublin city centre area.


In addition, drug law enforcement remains a key priority area for the Government and An Garda Síochána. This is clearly reflected in the Programme for Government commitments and An Garda Síochána's Policing Plan for 2015 which highlights a strong focus in combating serious crime in all its forms.


The Deputy will appreciate that drugs related issues feature prominently across the criminal justice policy areas for which I have responsibility whether it is in the context of crime policy, penal policy, prison and probation initiatives, youth diversion initiatives etc.


Given the extent to which this issue permeates the work of my Department detailing the resources including staff resources associated with that work is not without its difficulty. Having said that, details of drug related expenditure incurred by national authorities is collated for EU data collection purposes on an annual basis. Within that framework, expenditure by this Department in 2014 was estimated to be €18.5m. This included funding in areas such as the community based addiction projects supported by the Probation Service, Garda Youth Diversion Projects and the criminal justice related costs associated with the Drug Treatment Court and the National Drug Related Deaths Index.

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