Home > Dail Eireann debate. Leaders’ questions [Crime].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Leaders’ questions [Crime]. (27 Feb 2019)

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Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: When will the working group report on alternative responses for personal possession of drugs? It was due to report to the Government by the end of 2018 and we now hear that it will be the end of the first quarter of this year before the report is completed. At many of our joint policing committees and other meetings with An Garda Síochána, we hear that virtually all crime is now drug-related. What consideration is the Government giving to decriminalisation, along the lines of the Portuguese, Uruguayan or Canadian models, or those adopted in many states in the US? 

It must be remembered that the Government and the previous Fianna Fáil Government slashed Garda numbers and retrenched across health, housing and education. This had a desperate impact on vulnerable communities and the development of the north fringe, south fringe and Fingal areas of Dublin city was held up for almost a decade. It is now proceeding again but surely an integral part of any plan for a new urban district is a public security presence. Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister for Justice to liaise with the two planning authorities to ensure that the new Garda divisional headquarters will be in that new city, as it were, on the northern boundary of Dublin?


  The Taoiseach: I will ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to contact the Garda Commissioner about that matter. We should allow the Garda Commissioner, the OPW and the Department to work together to establish where the best, most practical location is for that new headquarters. I imagine other people will have different views as to where it should be located and everything will have to be taken into account and consideration. 

I am not sure if it is the case that all or most crimes are now drug-related.


  Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Many of them are.   The Taoiseach: That certainly would not be the case, for example, when it comes to sexual assaults, domestic violence and crimes of that nature. It probably is the case in the context of murders and burglaries. A huge number of burglaries are now, and always have been, drug-related. 

The work of the group chaired by Mr. Justice Garrett Sheehan is ongoing. We expect the group to report in the next couple of months. It is examining whether decriminalisation of possession of small amounts of drugs or narcotics might be the way to go for Ireland. It would not involve legalisation but it would involve decriminalisation, thereby focusing Garda resources on those who are involved in pushing, selling and distributing drugs, rather than those who possess them. It would move away from a criminal-justice approach to minor possession towards a healthcare approach. I favour that but it needs to be worked through.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
27 February 2019

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