I propose to take Questions Nos. 32, 92, 103 and 175 together.
The drugs problem is a matter of the very highest priority for myself and for the Garda, and it is not confined to inner-city areas. The smaller towns and rural areas are also at risk and I am determined that we deal with the problem in these areas before it takes hold.
I am pleased to report that a number of substantial seizures have been made by the Garda this year. Figures available from the Forensic Science Laboratory — where all drugs seized by the Garda are analysed — show that as of 30 September this year 4,081 cases were sent for analysis. Of these, 3,016 cases had been examined by that date. Of the cases examined, 2,236 involved cannabis resin with a total weight of 1,060,565 grams. This continues to confirm the established trend that cannabis resin accounts for about 75 per cent of drugs misused in this country.
There have been 157 cases involving heroin with a total weight of 1,697.3 grams; 16 cases involving cocaine with a total weight of 35 grams; 157 cases involving ecstasy tablets with a total of 15,520 tablets siezed; 83 cases involving LSD with a total of 14,500 tablets seized, and 29 cases involving amphetemine powder with a total weight of 66 grams. Arising from these seizures, prosecutions have been taken and more are currently in progress.
All Garda drugs units are co-ordinated on a national basis through the National Drug Administration Office in Garda Headquarters. In Dublin, monthly meetings are held between all drugs units at which recent seizures and trends are discussed and future operations planned. This ensures maximum co-ordination and cohesion of the fight against drugs in the capital. As part of its strategy, the Garda has commenced a "patrolling system" involving a high profile Garda presence in certain innercity complexes. This is designed to break the influence of drug dealers operating in particular locations in the city.
An important part of the fight against drugs is to target the ill-gotten gains of drug deals and traffickers. The Criminal Justice Act, 1994, contains provisions for the confiscation of proceeds of crime and deals with money laundering by criminals, including drug traffickers. This Act represents a major initiative against the drug menace.
I am extremely concerned about the use of syringes as weapons of crime. Attacks with syringes are deeply traumatic for the innocent victim who is confronted with the potential threat of being infected with HIV or some other serious disease.
All possible measures are being taken by the Garda to deal with this problem, including patrolling and surveillance. However, this is not a problem that can be easily resolved given the availability of syringes, the ease with which they can be concealed on the person and the desperation of the addict to get money for drugs. I am informed by the Garda authorities that recently a person found in possession of a blood filled syringe was successfully prosecuted under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990. This is a most significant conviction, which suggests that adequate legal provisions may already be in place to deal with the possession and use of an infected syringe in connection with a robbery or other crime. However, I am keeping this aspect of the drugs problem under continuous review and I shall not hesitate to make further proposals to deal with this matter, if it appears to me that existing legislation is not adequate.