I join the Deputy in condemning unequivocally the criminal activity in Drogheda. I have visited the town of Drogheda on a number of occasions in recent months - including two weeks ago in the company of the Garda Commissioner, Mr. Drew Harris - to meet the gardaí involved in tackling what is a feud. I have been briefed by the Commissioner about the dedicated policing operation, Operation Stratus, which is in place in Drogheda and which specifically targets this ongoing, highly volatile situation.
Operation Stratus consists of high-visibility patrols and checkpoints, days of action and covert policing initiatives targeting specific parties involved in 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.
I am informed that a number of arrests took place last weekend as part of Operation Stratus. On Friday, gardaí investigating ongoing criminality in Drogheda attended the scene of a stolen burnt-out car. The follow-up investigation led to three males being arrested and charged in respect of this incident. On Sunday, gardaí searched a house in the Hill View area of Drogheda town. During the course of the search, gardaí recovered quantities of cocaine and cannabis herb. Other paraphernalia, including weighing equipment and documentation, was also seized. I am informed that during the follow-up operation a person was arrested and is currently detained for questioning under the Criminal Justice Act 1984.
I welcome the Garda Commissioner's recent announcement that an additional 25 Garda members will be assigned to Drogheda, adding to the existing Garda strength of approximately 120 members. 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. Members of these units are highly trained and equipped with a variety of non-lethal and lethal weapons. They 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.