Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (544)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

544. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 159 of 9 October 2018, for which no reply was received, the measures being taken to address dealing and distribution of crack cocaine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13652/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that I have requested a report from the Garda Authorities in relation to this matter and I will further advise in regard to his question when the report is to hand.

The continued disruption of the supply of all illicit drugs, including crack cocaine, remains a priority for An Garda Síochána and the other state agencies tasked with responsibilities in this regard. An Garda Síochána remains resolute in its determination to act against those within society who pose a significant threat to the welfare and well-being of our citizens and the communities they serve. A core focus of the work carried out by An Garda Síochána is aimed at tackling drug distribution and organised crime.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 544 and to my reply of 26 March 2019.
I am aware that An Garda Síochána is reporting increased seizures of cocaine, evidence of increased circulation of the drug. The same trend is seen in other European countries also, which is an unfortunate and worrying development. An Garda Síochána is pursuing a number of strategies to tackle drug trafficking by organised criminal gangs including:
- gathering intelligence on those involved in the distribution of drugs;
- conducting targeted operations on criminal networks based on intelligence;
- working with the Criminal Assets Bureau to seize the assets of criminals and disrupt their activities; and
- working in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, both within and outside the jurisdiction.
Crack cocaine is made using a combination of cocaine (powder form) and water with baking soda which is heated. It is highly addictive and its use is generally confined to problematic drug users. There is not as high a demand for this substance as for powder cocaine.
The continued disruption of the supply of all illicit drugs remains a priority for An Garda Síochána and the other state agencies tasked with responsibilities in this regard. An Garda Síochána remains resolute in its determination to act against those within society who pose a significant threat to the welfare and well-being of our citizens and the communities they serve.  A core focus of the work carried out by An Garda Síochána is aimed at tackling drugs and organised crime.
An Garda Síochána works closely with the communities within which it serves for the purpose of addressing drug related issues experienced within those communities, including through overt patrolling by uniformed personnel and through intelligence led operations targeting known criminals. Investing in capacity building measures to support the role of law enforcement authorities is important in dealing with emerging trends in relation to drugs.
As the Deputy is aware, I meet the Garda Commissioner and his senior team regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern and such meetings have taken place in recent weeks to discuss the recent rise in drug-related crime in communities throughout the country, notably in the Drogheda area as well as in Dublin city. The Commissioner is recruiting a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019, in addition to 600 Garda Civilian Staff.