Written answers

Thursday, 20 June 2024

Department of Justice and Equality

Departmental Policies

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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25. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the additional legislative measures that will be introduced to deal with the scourge of drugs throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26532/24]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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I want to assure the Deputy that I am conscious of, and hugely committed to, tackling the devastating impact that illegal drugs have on communities across the country. My Department is steadfast in working to address the harms caused to families and communities by the activities of transnational organised crime groups and, as part of this, all the laws and powers available to An Garda Síochána are kept under close review.

Tackling drug dealing, and the associated criminal activity that fuel this illegal and very harmful trade, is a top priority for An Garda Síochána and the Government. During my time in office I have taken a number of key measures, including:

  • Increasing the maximum sentence for conspiracy to murder from 10 years to life in prison to target the people directing drug related crime;
  • Introducing new legislation to criminalise the exploitation and grooming of children into a life of crime;
  • Supporting the development and roll-out of Greentown, an internationally recognised programme designed to break the link between organised crime groups and the children they try to recruit.
The Deputy may also be aware that An Garda Síochána have successfully partnered with multiple international police services to target transnational criminal groups. My Department is currently engaged in negotiations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in relation to extradition and mutual legal assistance processes. It is important that criminals see there can be no hiding place from the law, and that the State will do everything in its power to bring those who spread misery in our communities to justice.

The Criminal Assets Bureau continues to successfully target the assets of persons which derive or are suspected to derive, directly or indirectly, from criminal conduct. Since its inception, the Bureau has been at the forefront of fighting organised crime in Ireland, disrupting the activities of criminal gangs through the removal of their ill-gotten gains and has been recognised as a world leader in asset investigations, tracing and forfeiture.

Earlier this year, I announced plans to introduce legislation to significantly strengthen CAB’s seizure powers. The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2024 will also speed up the process to dispose of the asset for the benefit of the State and the communities devastated by drug use, which I am supporting through the Community Safety Innovation Fund.

I have also ensured that An Garda Síochána continue to be effectively resourced. Record budgets have been allocated in recent years which have enabled the Garda Commissioner to assign extra resources to the specialist units involved in tackling organised crime. These include the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB), the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Support Unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB). Between 2019 and 2022, over €160m in drugs were seized by the Gardaí and these seizures continued to grow throughout 2023 and to date this year. As of 31 March 2024, just over €11 million of illicit drugs were seized by GNDOCB in 2024.


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