Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Questions (143)

John Deasy


230 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans he has to introduce a special drugs unit into Mayo in view of the vast coastline and the presence of an airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6387/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are no plans at present to introduce a special drugs unit into the Mayo division. However, as part of the commitment to the Garda Síochána Policing Plan and in order to achieve its objectives, a divisional drugs team has been established which consists of members of the Garda Síochána experienced in the area of drugs. A panel of such members has been formed from around the Mayo division for the purpose of conducting operations and for collection and collating of intelligence in regard to the illicit use of drugs. Operations are organised on the basis of such intelligence. The Garda authorities consider this method of operation appropriate for the Mayo division.

In addition, the Coastal Watch scheme is in operation in the Mayo division in the three districts which have a coastline, that is, Westport, Belmullet and Ballina. The scheme is similar to the concept of the Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch schemes and operates at each Garda sub-district along the coast. The gardaí also perform duty at Knock Airport in regard to arrival and departure of external flights.

The area of drug enforcement is monitored by the Garda authorities on a regular basis in order to ensure that adequate measures are in place to deal with offenders.