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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Cabinet Committee Meetings [50087/19, 51822/19, 52728/19] Drug gangs.

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Cabinet Committee Meetings [50087/19, 51822/19, 52728/19] Drug gangs. (17 Dec 2019)

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


6. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if the policy discussions on drug gangs take place at the Cabinet committee on social policy and public services or the Cabinet committee on security. [50087/19]

7. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if the policy discussions on drug gangs take place at the Cabinet committee on social policy and public services or the Cabinet committee on security. [51822/19]

8. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach the Cabinet committee at which policy discussions on drug gangs take place; and when it last met. [52728/19]

 

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, together.

The Cabinet committee on security is the most appropriate Cabinet committee to discuss policy related to drug gangs, as it deals with issues related to justice, community safety and policing reform. The Cabinet committee on security last met on 30 October. Separate from that, however, I met Commissioner Harris on 3 December and he updated me on the work of An Garda Síochána in respect of drug gangs.

 

The Government is committed to ensuring that Ireland is a safe place for all. The continued disruption of the supply of all illicit drugs remains a priority for An Garda Síochána and for the other State agencies tasked with responsibilities in this regard. Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities to ensure that the optimum use is made of resources. Record investment is being made in An Garda Síochána. Some €1.76 billion was allocated to the Garda in 2018, and this will increase to an unprecedented €1.882 billion for 2020. This investment is aiding the sustained growth of the organisation. I understand that these additional resources have enabled An Garda Síochána to staff appropriately specialist bureaus such as the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, GNDOCB. It leads on the strategy for tackling drugs and works with Garda divisional drug units nationwide in demand reduction and supply reduction at local level.

 

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

The first question was tabled by Deputy Michael Moynihan and Deputy Micheál Martin will speak on his behalf.

 

Deputy Micheál Martin

I suggest that the whole issue of drug gangs is also appropriate to the Cabinet committee on social policy and public services. Recent reporting about the scale and activities of drug gangs in Dublin, and increasingly throughout the country, has confirmed what I and my party have been saying for several years, namely, that there is a new and sinister level of drug activity taking hold and tackling it must be a core priority for the State at all levels. We believe the most important response to drug use is a return to the proven system of active and targeted community-based interventions. That is why we identify the social policy side of government. For this to work, however, we must also tackle the gangs spreading fear and destruction in their communities and using them as a base to grow their reach into the country.

 

Perhaps the most sinister part of what these gangs have been doing is recruiting and intimidating children into working for them. They do this because it spreads the legal risk and creates new networks for them. One part of the response to this issue must be to make it clear to the gangs that recruiting children opens them up to more severe punishment and penalties. Deputy John Curran, as the Taoiseach knows, has a Bill that does exactly this. The Bill passed Second Stage with all-party support and we need it now, not next year. The Taoiseach committed two months ago to looking at fast-tracking this Bill into law, but so far we have heard nothing. I ask the Taoiseach again to allow Deputy Curran's Bill to proceed immediately to committee and help ensure that it can become law without delay.

 

Another new element of the work of the drug gangs, as Interpol has said, is sending people down to provincial towns and cities to sell their product. This has been seen in Britain and America, in particular. The devastating impact of drugs in these communities can be swift and overpowering unless this activity is stopped early. Does the Taoiseach agree that this is an urgent issue, which must become a core priority for the Government?....

 

[For the full debate, click on this link]

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