Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 118 - Drug dealing [8565/22].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 118 - Drug dealing [8565/22]. (17 Feb 2022)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2022...

118. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice the new measures that will be introduced in 2022 to deal with illegal drugs throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8565/22] 

Helen McEntee, Minister for Justice: I can inform the Deputy that the continued disruption of the supply of all illicit drugs remains a priority for An Garda Síochána and the other state agencies tasked with responsibilities in this regard. A concerted effort has been made over the past two years to ensure that the detection and prevention of these types of criminal activity have not been adversely affected by the unprecedented demands placed on policing services by the vital enforcement of public health restrictions. 

As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including Garda operations aimed at preventing and countering criminal activity, and the enforcement of legislation pertaining to illegal drugs. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. 

The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) is having significant success in disrupting drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups. The Bureau’s work is supported by Divisional Drugs Units nationwide, and by all Gardaí working in local communities. GNDOCB also works closely and productively with international law enforcement partners. Gardaí continue to work closely with local authorities, the HSE, NGOs, community groups and other state agencies to tackle the problems of drug addiction and abuse. 

The Deputy may be aware that the Department of Health leads on Government policy in the area of drugs, and this policy is guided by the national drugs and alcohol strategy "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery - a health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025". This strategy represents a whole-of-Government response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland. The implementation of the strategy is led by my colleague, the Minister for Health, however, the strategy includes actions for all stakeholders, including my Department and An Garda Síochána. 

The strategy recognises the need for a balanced health-led approach - reducing demand, while also reducing access to illegal drugs - and is aimed at reducing the number of people criminalised for the possession of drugs for personal use. While this strategy supports vulnerable people who use drugs, it is also matched with strengthened enforcement measures across government to tackle the supply of illegal drugs. Sustained action by An Garda Síochána has continued unabated throughout the pandemic, bringing significant convictions and ongoing seizures of drugs, firearms and ammunition. 

I can inform the Deputy that on 2 July 2021, An Garda Síochána commenced an enhanced national anti-drugs strategy, Operation Tara, which has a strong focus on tackling street-level dealing throughout rural and urban Ireland. The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels - international, national and local - involved in the importation, distribution, cultivation, production, local sale and supply of controlled drugs. 

Recent successes of Operation Tara include: 

1. Gardaí attached to the Divisional Drugs Unit in Drogheda conducted a search in the Legavoureen area of Drogheda and seized more than €247,000 worth of Diazepam tablets on Wednesday, 24 November 2021; 

2. From 30th November to 3 December 2021, Gardaí in Wicklow, led by the Wicklow Divisional Drugs Unit, searched 26 locations in the county following an extensive investigation targeting the sale and supply of controlled drugs. 19 persons were charged and 12 youths were referred to the Garda Youth Diversion Programme. 

3. GNDOCB, assisted by other specialised units, undertook a particular operation designed to address drug-related issues being experienced in West Dublin and wider afield, including drug-related threat-to-life incidents and other forms of intimidation. On Wednesday 19 January 2022, 24 premises were searched, with €700,000 in cash seized alongside 16 high value watches and eight vehicles. Six suspects were arrested in the course of the operation. 

4. On Saturday 29 January 2022, Gardaí searched three properties in Tallaght, Dublin 24. During the course of the searches four firearms were seized, along with silencers and ammunition. Gardaí also seized approximately €70,000 worth of suspected heroin as well as small quantities of crack cocaine and cannabis. Two men were arrested at the scene. 

I can also inform the Deputy that Operation Fógra was established in the DMR on 27 November 2020, to enhance understanding and support An Garda Síochána’s response to incidents of Drug Related Intimidation (DRI) in the DMR. The objective of the operation is to have a focused, targeted approach in identifying incidents of highlighted areas of commonality within the DMR. 

The operation has two underpinning pillars; a harm reduction victim centred approach and information enabled policing to inform operational responses. 

The objectives of Operation Fógra are to increase frontline awareness of DRI, enhance collaboration with community supports, improve effectiveness of the DRI Reporting Programme and provide a greater analytical understanding of DRI to facilitate appropriate proactive interventions.

Repository Staff Only: item control page