Tuesday, 28 June 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
625. Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to a warning (details supplied) that cocaine use among young persons had now reached higher levels than heroin ever had; the steps being taken to reduce the supply of cocaine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22874/05]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): As the Deputy will be aware, the Government’s overall policy to tackle the drug problem is set out in the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008, Building on Experience, and responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the strategy lies with my colleague, Deputy Noel Ahern, Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Under the current national strategy, which sets out a framework for action for the period 2001-2008, drugs policy is being delivered across the four pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research.
In recent years, the Government has become increasingly aware of an increase in the use of cocaine in Ireland and the need to put in place appropriate interventions. The Government remains fully committed to addressing the misuse of all illegal drugs, including cocaine, in the context of the national drugs strategy, and it continues to invest significant funding towards tackling the drug problem.
Specifically as regards cocaine, last November the Minister of State with responsibility for the national drugs strategy allocated €400,000 to fund a number of pilot training, education and treatment initiatives targeted at addressing cocaine. This funding is intended to build on the valuable work already done in this area by the health authorities and community based projects in local drugs task force areas. It is expected that these pilot initiatives will play an important part in broadening our knowledge of how best to continue to tackle the problem of cocaine misuse.
Regarding supply reduction, actions by An Garda Síochána include: conducting intelligence driven operations at criminal networks involved in the sale and supply of cocaine; working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies, both nationally and internationally, to reduce the supply of cocaine into the state; and conducting targeted operations in locations where cocaine supply and distribution are believed to occur.
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