Home > Dail Eireann debate. Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2019: Second Stage [Private Members].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2019: Second Stage [Private Members]. (11 Dec 2019)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

Deputy John Curran: I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am sharing time with Deputies Cahill and Butler. As Members of the House are aware, the quantity of illicit drugs on our streets and in our communities is at a level we have not previously seen. They are having a devastating effect on the lives of individuals and families and on communities. These are not just words; the evidence supports them in every sense. An Garda Síochána seized as many drugs in 2017 as were seized in 2015 and 2016 combined. Members of the House who are members of policing fora, joint policing committees or drugs task forces are very familiar with the issue.


It is raised constantly and members of all parties are dealing with it. The Central Statistics Office figures, which referred to controlled drug offences for the year July 2018 to July 2019, have seen an increase in drug-related offences of 16%, year-on-year, and we see the number of people presenting for treatment has also increased. There are currently 10,300 people on methadone treatment and, regrettably, in 2016, 736 people died a drug-related death. The figures are appalling.


Today, Dr. Johnny Connolly published a report, Building Community Resilience. While it looks at a whole range of issues around drugs, gangland and crime, it specifically made reference to the issue of children caught up in the drugs trade. It followed on from a report at the beginning of last year, when the Blanchardstown local drug and alcohol task force published research which indicated that children as young as eight were working as drug runners and ten year olds were working as drug dealers, although many of us knew this information already. The use of minors in drugs distribution networks is appalling but occurs because, due to their age, there are fewer consequences if they are caught. The Blanchardstown local drug and alcohol task force report exposes the growing prevalence of coercing and exploiting children to supply drugs in our communities. Organised crime gangs appear to be targeting teenagers to handle drugs, knowing they are far less likely to attract attention. It also removes the risk of gang members getting caught with the supplies.


The promise of a lucrative lifestyle tends to prove irresistible for many teenagers. Supplying and dealing drugs in return for quick cash is easy when, in their minds, there is little or no sanction for getting caught with quantities of class A drugs. Younger generations may not necessarily be aware that a criminal conviction for drug offences can have a major impact on a person's future prospects, including when it comes to future employment and travel. We cannot assume that parents are encouraging their children to stay clear of the dangers associated with illegal drugs. Sadly, in some cases, it can be a parent or another family member who gets a child involved in drug dealing.


People regularly complain about the lack of gardaí on the streets, the easy tolerance of drug abuse and the open selling of drugs, including transactions on streets and on public transport, and people injecting drugs in plain sight. The use of cocaine is up 30% and cocaine use in Ireland is now the third highest in Europe. Europol's 2019 Drug Markets Report illustrates the degree to which violence, death, intimidation, stealing and spreading fear across every community in Ireland is now a feature and a consequence of our rampant drugs trade. The State's and the Government's response to date, notwithstanding the good work of gardaí, is not at a scale, or not comprehensive enough, to deal with what we are currently facing.


The unavoidable fact is that violence follows the drugs trade, and there would be no drugs trade without the end user. Cocaine is being consumed by all sectors of society and in every part of the country. However far removed geographically and demographically, each of those users bears some responsibility for the gangland deaths and the terror inflicted on communities by the drugs trade……


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