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Substance Misuse

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 30 November 2021

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Questions (474)

Carol Nolan


474. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice if the attention of her Department has been drawn to a surge in the use of crack cocaine; if her Department has conducted an analysis of this trend; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58353/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

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. A concerted effort has been made over the past year to ensure that the detection and prevention of these types of criminal activity have not been adversely affected by the unprecedented demands placed on policing services by the vital enforcement of public health restrictions.

As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including Garda operations aimed at preventing and countering criminal activity, and the enforcement of legislation pertaining to illegal drugs. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) is having significant success in disrupting drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups. The Bureau’s work is supported by Divisional Drugs Units nationwide, and by all Gardaí working in local communities. GNDOCB also works closely and productively with international law enforcement partners. Gardaí continue to work closely with local authorities, HSE, NGOs, community groups and other state agencies to tackle the problems of drug addiction and abuse. This vital work is having significant success in disrupting drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups, including the recent seizure of cocaine, heroin, cannabis and ketamine with an estimated value of €9,790,000 Dublin Port on 24 November.

The Deputy may be aware that the Department of Health leads on Government policy in the area of drugs, and this policy is guided by the national drugs and alcohol strategy "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery - a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025". This strategy represents a whole-of-Government response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland. The implementation of the strategy is led by my colleague, the Minister for Health, however the strategy includes actions for all stakeholders, including my Department and An Garda Síochána.

The strategy recognises the need for a balanced health-led approach - reducing demand, while also reducing access to illegal drugs, and is aimed at reducing the number of people criminalised for the possession of drugs for personal use. While this strategy supports the vulnerable people who use drugs, it is also matched with strengthened enforcement measures across government to tackle the supply of illegal drugs. Sustained action by An Garda Síochána has continued unabated throughout the current pandemic, bringing significant convictions and ongoing seizures of drugs, firearms and ammunition.

I can inform the Deputy that on 2 July 2021, An Garda Síochána commenced an enhanced national anti-drugs strategy, Operation Tara, which has a strong focus on tackling street-level dealing throughout rural and urban Ireland. Operation Tara is focused on tackling street-level dealing throughout rural and urban Ireland. The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels - international, national and local - involved in the importation, distribution, cultivation, production, local sale and supply of controlled drugs including crack cocaine.

Recent successes of Operation Tara include;

- Gardaí attached to the Divisional Drug Unit at Kevin Street Garda Station, with assistance from the Divisional Crime Task Force, conducted a search under warrant at a residence in Ringsend, Dublin 4 and seized €123,000 worth of controlled drugs on Friday 8th October 2021.

- As part of Operation Tara, Gardaí from Naas recovered cannabis herb worth €100,000in the course of searching a stolen motor van in Allenwood, Co Kildare on the 9th October.

- Gardaí from the detective and drug units in Gorey and Enniscorthy, conducted a search of a residence in Bunclody and seized a combined €304,000 in cannabis and cocaine on Saturday, 23rd October 2021, approximately €100,000 of cannabis herb, €180,000 in cannabis resin and almost €24,000 worth of cocaine (subject to analysis) was located at the residence.

- Gardaí from Cork based Drugs Units have seized drugs worth €140,000 and arrested two males in the course of an operation in Cork on Thursday, 4th November 2021.

All drugs seized are subject to analysis by Forensic Science Ireland (FSI).

The Deputy may also be aware that The National Drugs Strategy is unique among national drugs strategies across EU Member States in recognising the need to address drug-related debt intimidation at a community level.

An Garda Síochána regard drug-related intimidation as a hugely serious issue which impacts significantly on communities throughout Ireland and advise people to seek help and support from their local Gardaí, even where a person has felt compelled to pay money to those who engage in drug related intimidation.

An Garda Síochána deals with drug related intimidation in a confidential and secure manner. Insofar as possible, An Garda Síochána offers confidentiality and provides practical personal security and safety information and advice in relation to particular threats or instances of intimidation, along with information on appropriate drug support services for the individual in the family who is accruing drug debts, while also providing information regarding the process involved in making a formal complaint.