Thursday, 2 February 2006
Michael McDowell (Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
I am informed by the Garda authorities that while there has been an increase in the seizures of freebase or crack cocaine in this jurisdiction over the past three years this represents a small proportion of the total number of cocaine seizures recorded annually. However, the Garda authorities also inform me that most of the recorded seizures of freebase cocaine, particularly in the past two years, have been in the north central division of the Dublin metropolitan region — the area represented by Deputy Gregory.
This is a matter of significant concern to the Garda authorities, which have taken a number of measures to address the problem. The Garda national drugs unit and local drug units are conducting intelligence-driven operations to target individuals suspected of involvement in the distribution of freebase cocaine. Drug units and community policing personnel are engaged in intelligence gathering on individuals and groups suspected of involvement in the sale and distribution of the drugs. I thank the local community for the work of its many activists to help the Garda in that regard. There is also targeted patrolling by uniform and plain-clothes personnel of problem areas in order to detect and disrupt persons involved in such activity.
The national drugs strategy 2001-08 addresses the problem of drug misuse across a number of pillars — supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research — and the implementation of the strategy across a range of Departments and agencies is co-ordinated by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The Government is aware of the increased prevalence of cocaine usage in recent times and efforts to tackle it are broadly based to include measures aimed at both supply and demand reduction, including awareness initiatives.
The fact that most of the arrests have been carried out in the Deputy's constituency shows that there is a particular local issue and that the area is effectively a base for the distribution of crack cocaine, not merely in the city but in Ireland. It would be idle of me to pretend otherwise than that it is a particular community within the Deputy's constituency which at the moment specialises in this area — I do not want to go any further than that because I do not want to be accused of fanning flames. However, in so far as immigrants are engaged in this trade, they should be under no illusion but that if they are convicted or apprehended, or if they come to attention in any other way, the power of deportation will be used aggressively and vigorously to counter this threat.