Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 136 – Crime prevention [16190/22].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 136 – Crime prevention [16190/22]. (29 Mar 2022)

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

136. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which drug-related crime and increase in the use of drugs is being noted with a view to a serious crackdown on the issues involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16190/22] 

Helen McEntee, Minister for Justice: Tackling organised criminal activity is a key priority for the Government and an ongoing priority for An Garda Síochána. The Government has supported An Garda Síochána in addressing the threat from organised crime gangs through the introduction of a range of legislative measures. 

This includes the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which is currently being drafted and will provide, among other matters, for an increase in the penalty for conspiracy to murder from 10 years to life imprisonment.

 The Government has in place the National Drugs and Alcohol Strategy, "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery - a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025". 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 the vulnerable people who use drugs, it is also matched with strengthened enforcement measures across government to tackle the supply of illegal drugs. 

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible under the law for the management of An Garda Síochána, including operational matters and the deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters. 

An Garda Síochána continues to develop and implement strategies to dismantle and disrupt criminal networks, utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methods. Gardaí target dangerous criminals and organised criminal groups through the use of focused intelligence led operations by specialist units and agencies such as the Organised Crime Unit, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. 

The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) is having significant success in disrupting the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups. Its work is supported by Divisional Drugs Units nationwide and by all Gardaí working in local communities, while working closely with international law enforcement partners. 

I am advised by the Garda authorities that in 2021, the GNDOCB seized €63.689m in illicit drugs, and seized cash of €5.6m and £38,751 (UK). In addition, €8.23m, £142,520 (UK) and $23 (US) was forfeited to the State in 2021. 

I can further 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 the seizure of an estimated €125,600 of suspected cannabis in Tipperary on 11 February and the seizure of four firearms, ammunition and an estimated €70,000 of suspected heroin in Dublin on 29 January.

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