Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Drug Abuse.

117.

asked the Minister for Justice the number of convictions for illegal drug selling in the Twenty-six Counties during August, 1970 and 1971, and September, 1970, and 1971; and the number of convictions for drug abuse during such months.

Crime statistics are compiled on an annual basis and the figures asked for would have to be specially compiled. Figures for individual months are of no particular significance depending as they do on a variety of accidental factors such as adjournments, and I do not consider that I would be justified in asking the Garda to compile these figures at the expense of other and, to my mind, much more important work. I would refer the Deputy to the answers I gave to questions on this subject on 29th April, 22nd July and 5th August of this year.

Is the Minister aware that the drug problem in Dublin is increasing rapidly and is causing widespread concern? While figures might not be available, it is obvious there is a definite need for new comprehensive legislation in this House to deal with this problem.

That is primarily a matter for the Minister for Health.

It is not a matter for the Minister for Health.

I think this point was answered by the Minister for Health.

118.

asked the Minister for Justice whether his Department intends to increase the number of Garda personnel in the drug squad.

I have accepted the recommendation in the report of the working party on drug abuse earlier this year that the strength of the Garda drug squad should be kept under review and additional appointments made as the need arises. An extra garda was assigned to the squad recently.

Is the Minister aware that members of the Garda drug squad have been working until two o'clock and three o'clock in the morning and must appear in court at ten o'clock on the following morning? The Minister must appreciate that these men are overworked at the moment because of the size of the problem. Further, is the Minister aware that he stated previously that he would consider setting up drug squads in provincial areas?

Six gardaí have been trained with the drug squad in Dublin for service in the provincial areas. Two are still in training and four have returned to their divisions having been trained.

119.

asked the Minister for Justice the number of foreigners who have been convicted of drug offences in this country in the past year.

The records do not segregate cases according to nationality. In the year ended 30th September, 1971, 59 persons were convicted of drug offences, of whom seven had addresses outside the State.