Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 59 – Substance abuse [7547/23].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 59 – Substance abuse [7547/23]. (16 Feb 2023)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2023...

59. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice the additional measures, in conjunction with the Department of Health, that will be implemented to deal with the serious problems arising from the prevalent use of illegal drugs throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7547/23]

Simon Harris Minister for Justice: I want to assure the Deputy that I am acutely conscious of the devastating impact that illegal drugs and drug dealing have on communities across the country and I have discussed these concerns with the Garda Commissioner and his senior team since my appointment as Minister.

Tackling drug dealing and associated criminal activity, including by organised crime groups and by members of the public who, through their drug taking, fuel this illegal and very harmful trade, is a top priority for An Garda Síochána and the Government. The Government is committed to taking a number of direct actions to tackle this, including by:

- Increasing the maximum sentence for conspiracy to murder from 10 years to life in prison to tackle those who direct gangland and drug related crime;

- Introducing new legislation which will criminalise the grooming of children into a life of crime, and supporting the roll-out of Greentown, an evidence-informed pilot programme which is seeking to break the link between the gangs and the children they try to recruit.

In addition, the Government will continue to support An Garda Síochána through unprecedented levels of investment to keep our communities safe.

An Garda Síochána continues to target those involved in the sale and supply of illegal drugs through Operation Tara, which has a strong focus on tackling street-level dealing across the country. Operation Tara also focuses on disrupting and dismantling the drug trafficking networks that impact on our communities and prosecuting those involved, at every level.

The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) is having significant, sustained success in disrupting the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups, with several substantial seizures in recent weeks. This month, Gardaí seized cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately €700,000 and arrested an individual in the Dublin 15 area following an intelligence-led operation. The Deputy may also be aware that Gardaí in Monaghan seized €384,000 worth of cannabis in December.

The Deputy may also wish to know that the Garda Commissioner has tasked an Inspector in every Garda Division to respond to the issue of drug-related intimidation. There are currently thirty nominated Garda Inspectors appointed to act as liaison officers for the Drug-Related Intimidation Reporting Programme, covering each Garda Division.

Cooperation with international law enforcement agencies remains a key element of the Garda response in view of the global nature of the drugs trade, with Gardaí working closely with relevant law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL and Europol to target drug trafficking.

More broadly, the Government’s strategic approach to the misuse of drugs is health-led, under the National Drugs and Alcohol Strategy 2017-2025, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery , with the intention being to reduce demand, while balancing this with limiting access to illegal drugs to the greatest extent possible. Gardaí are in ongoing collaboration with local authorities, the HSE, NGOs, community groups and other state agencies to tackle the problems of drug addiction and abuse.

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