Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (526)

Fergus O'Dowd


526. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an application for funding a Mulvey type report will be supported to assess and plan appropriately to manage the drugs crisis in Drogheda, County Louth, in view of the ongoing drug related criminality in the area and the murder that took place on 27 August 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36159/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, both the Taoiseach and I have visited Drogheda on a number of occasions in recent months to meet with Gardaí involved in tackling the ongoing and highly volatile feud as referred to by the Deputy. I have also been regularly briefed by the Commissioner about the dedicated policing operation - Operation Stratus - that is in place in Drogheda and specifically targets this feud.

Operation Stratus consists of high visibility patrols and checkpoints, days of action and covert policing initiatives, targeting specific parties to the feud. The operations are supplemented by personnel from the regional armed support unit, the drugs unit and the divisional roads policing unit and have resulted in the seizure of considerable amounts of cash, firearms and controlled drugs. To date, over 300 proactive searches have been carried out along with 870 Armed Support Unit / Roads Policing checkpoints and 1253 proactive uniform and plainclothes patrols.

Following the most recent Garda attestation in June 2019, the Garda Commissioner assigned 30 new probationer Gardaí to the Louth Division, including 25 to the Drogheda District.

I also want to reassure the local community in Drogheda that there are specialised regional Armed Support Units based in the Northern Region at Dundalk and Ballyshannon Garda Stations. Members of these Units are highly trained and equipped with a variety of non-lethal and lethal weapons and perform high visibility armed checkpoints and patrols throughout the region and support and supplement the national Emergency Response Unit which has also been deployed to Drogheda in recent times. The Commissioner recently made an operational decision to establish a third Regional ASU in the Northern Region at Cavan Garda station, and I understand that arrangements have commenced to establish this new unit in order to further support and strengthen Garda capacities in the region.

In terms of a Mulvey-type report, the Deputy will be aware that the Government last year endorsed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which sets out a blueprint for the future of policing in Ireland, and agreed to accept all 157 key recommendations contained in the report. The report emphasises the importance of community policing and the building of trust and strong relationships between gardaí and people in the community and also a new model of cooperation between Departments and agencies which provide essential services and supports to communities and individuals at risk.

The report is steadily being implemented in line with the high level implementation plan, “A Policing Service for the Future”, which I published in December. Implementation of the plan is being overseen by a dedicated programme office in the Department of the Taoiseach and involves a number of Departments and agencies.

As the Deputy will know, like him, I am determined that the situation in Drogheda cannot be allowed to continue. There has been a sustained and concerted effort on the part of An Garda Síochána to bring those engaged in the feud to justice. I know An Garda Síochána is dedicated to tackling gang-related violence in Drogheda and ensuring the safety of all citizens in the community and the wider area.