As the Deputy will be aware, the operation and allocation of resources within An Garda Síochána are matters for the Commissioner and his management team. As Minister I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured by the Commissioner that the allocation of resources is kept under constant review to respond to emerging crime trends.
An Garda Síochána are of course continuing in their duties to prevent and investigate crime in addition to their specific role in supporting public health restrictions during the Covid-19 emergency. As such, long-standing legislation for offences such as public order, assault, road traffic, and drugs continue to be used. For example, while conducting Covid-19 patrols or checkpoints, Gardaí have had a number of significant seizures of drugs and other illicit items, including firearms, and have made arrests in that regard.
The Garda Commissioner, on 13 March 2020, when announcing An Garda Síochána’s measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighted that resources assigned to specialist units, including drugs units, were not affected by these measures. An Garda Síochána had commenced a process to establish/re-invigorate Drugs Units in each Garda Division. The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (NDOCB) leads in tackling all forms of drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs in Ireland. It is having significant success in disrupting drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs in Ireland, as well as organised crime groups.
An Garda Síochána also remains committed to tackling the supply of drugs by supporting local communities through various preventative and detection initiatives and engagement with Local and Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Forces; the Garda Youth Diversion Programme and Projects; the Garda Schools Programme; the Joint Policing Committees and Community Policing Fora.
I am advised that Divisional Drug Units are now established in every Garda Division. The uninterrupted policing of organised crime at a national level and considerable increase in the size of Divisional Drugs Units at a local level, during the policing of the COVID-19 pandemic, has contributed to this success in seizing controlled drugs and in the apprehension of those involved in the sale and supply of the substances involved.
In addition, the significant increase in the number of members of An Garda Síochána circulating in communities and engaged in checkpoints throughout the State, has also presented an obstacle to the movement of criminals.
It is important that communities work together with An Garda Síochána in this task. Reporting by the public of illegal activity, including drug dealing or intimidation, is important to assist in this work and there are a range of channels to do so, including through the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111; as well as the “Dial to Stop Drug Dealing” campaign run in partnership with Crimestoppers at 1800 25 00 25.