Wednesday, 5 April 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
95. Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice the proposals, if any, she has for addressing the drug problem in Dublin; the role she envisages for her Department in enforcing the law against drug dealers; the role of the Garda and the prison service in this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7089/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): This is a complex matter and I will set out hereunder as concisely as I can, what I, as Minister for Justice, am doing to deal with the drugs problem. As the Deputy will be aware, these measures are being taken within the overall context of the Government strategy to prevent drug abuse which proposes a multi-disciplinary approach requiring action in the areas of supply reduction, demand reduction and increased access to treatment and rehabilitation programmes.
First, I am ensuring that the Garda have the necessary resources to deal with the problem. In Dublin, drug units have been established in each of the city's five Garda divisions and their activities are co-ordinated through the Central Drugs Squad in Harcourt Square. Full time drugs units now operate  in Santry, Cabra, Raheny, Dun Laoghaire, Crumlin, Ballyfermot, Tallaght, Store Street, Pearse Street, Kevin Street and Donnybrook.
Second, I will bring proposals to Government shortly designed to put in place the best arrangements for achieving a cohesive and co-ordinated response to the drugs problem by the existing law enforcement agencies. Thirdly, I am determined that the legislation recently put in place to provide for the seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime, including drug trafficking, be operated to the fullest possible extent.
Fourth, I intend to ensure that the authorities here work closely with the European Drugs Unit with the objective of achieving the maximum exchange and co-ordination of drugs intelligence. Fifth, with regard to the question of drugs in prison, I would refer the Deputy to the detailed response I gave to the House on this subject on 14 March 1995. Steps which are being taken to keep drugs out of the prisons include a high level of staff vigilance, closed circuit video surveillance of visits, screening of prisoners after visits and regular searches of the prisons. In addition, it is planned to carry out a full review to establish how best to manage the problems of both illicit drugs in prison and the treatment-rehabilitation of drug-addicted offenders.
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