Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 586 – Crime prevention [16703/22].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 586 – Crime prevention [16703/22]. (29 Mar 2022)

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

  1. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which the revised updated bail laws are being utilised in the battle against criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16703/22]


Minister for Justice Helen McEntee: As the Deputy will appreciate, the Constitutional presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty means that restricting a person’s liberty is a serious matter.


While our laws do provide for the refusal of bail in certain circumstances, the decision to grant bail in a particular case is always a matter for the presiding judge, who is independent in the exercise of their judicial functions.


The Bail Act 1997, which was introduced following a referendum to amend the Constitution, allows the courts to refuse bail for a person charged with a serious offence if necessary to prevent the commission of another serious offence.


Over the last 25 years, our bail laws have been further strengthened on three more occasions, most recently by the Criminal Justice Act 2017 and I am advised by the Garda authorities that the amended bail laws have proven to be effective.


As the Deputy will be aware, tackling drug trafficking, drug dealing and organised criminal activity is a key priority for the Government and for An Garda Síochána.


The Garda Commissioner is responsible under the law for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including operational decisions and the deployment of resources to address drug crime. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters.


However, the Government has supported An Garda Síochána in addressing the threat from organised crime gangs through the introduction of legislative measures such as:


- The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016, which provides additional Garda powers for the immediate seizure of assets suspected of being the proceeds of crime to prevent them being disposed of; and


- The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, introduced to protect the justice system from being subverted by criminal groups, including potential intimidation of juries.


The Deputy may be aware that An Garda Síochána strengthened its capacity to tackle organised crime in 2015, through the creation of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB), which is headed by a Detective Chief Superintendent reporting to Assistant Commissioner, Organised and Serious Crime. The role is to proactively, via intelligence led investigations, target top tier Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) impacting on this jurisdiction.


GNDOCB enjoys continuing significant success in disrupting drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups. Its work is supported by Divisional Drugs Units, which tackle drug-related crime on a local basis throughout the country, in collaboration with other law enforcement partners and all Gardaí working in local communities. Divisional Drug Units are now established in every Garda Division.


The Deputy may also wish to be aware that Operation Tara was launched by the Garda Commissioner in July of last year and this Operation has had significant success in disrupting, dismantling and prosecuting those involved in drug trafficking networks at international, national and local levels. Under Operation Tara, there have been significant seizures nationwide, with the seizure of approximately €2m worth of cannabis herb last August the most significant.

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