I propose to take Questions Nos. 516 and 517 together.
As the Deputy will be aware, proactively tackling all forms of drug crime is a priority for An Garda Síochána. The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) is having significant success in disrupting the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups. Its work is supported by Divisional Drugs Units nationwide and by all Gardaí working in local communities, while working closely with international law enforcement partners.
The National Drugs Strategy, "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery - a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025 ", is unique among national drugs strategies across EU Member States in recognising the need to address drug-related debt intimidation at a community level.
The Strategy includes an action (4.1.42) which specifically relates to strengthening the effectiveness of the Drug-Related Intimidation Reporting Programme. The programme, which was developed by An Garda Síochána in partnership with the National Family Support Network (NFSN) to respond to the needs of drug users and family members who may be subject to the threat of drug related intimidation, has been implemented on a national level since 2013. In addition, the Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, includes a commitment to support the Drug-Related Intimidation Reporting Programme.
An Garda Síochána regard drug-related intimidation as a hugely serious issue which impacts significantly on communities throughout Ireland. An Garda Síochána 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.
In dealing with any complaint of drug related intimidation, or advice sought in relation to this issue, An Garda Síochána have the utmost regard to the safety and most effective means to afford the person or family subject to the threat the best level of security, advice and support. Confidentiality and security of the persons concerned are paramount for An Garda Síochána when dealing with reports under the programme.
In Dublin's North East Inner City specifically, there has been work done by the NEIC Programme Implementation Board on the issue of drug-related intimidation through the Ana Liffey Drug Project. This work is being taken forward by a sub group of the Implementation Board.
I consulted with An Garda Síochána in relation to the Deputy's query on the number of times support has been sought from and provided under the drug related intimidation reporting programme since it was established. As the Deputy will appreciate, I am informed by the Garda authorities that this information is highly sensitive and not suitable for release into the public domain.