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Written Answers. - Drug Seizures.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 51. Mr. Quinn Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  in regard to the speech he delivered at the Garda Training College on 4 July 2002, the basis on which he is seeking a 50% increase in the number of people charged with drug offences over the next six years; his views on whether the principal objective of public policy on drugs should be to reduce the number of people being charged by cutting off supply, rather than by simply increasing the number of people being charged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18501/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I would like to advise the Deputy that unfortunately some aspects of my address at the Garda graduation ceremony on 4 July 2002, to which he refers, were incorrectly [1163] represented in one of the national newspapers at that time. An official from my Department was subsequently in contact with the relevant newspaper to point out this error. A copy of my address has been lodged in the Oireachtas Library for the information of the House.

Rather than making any reference to the increasing numbers charged with drug offences, what I actually did was refer to key aims and performance indicators in the national drugs strategy which are indeed to cut off significantly the supply of illegal drugs by increasing the number of drug seizures by 25% by 2004 and by 50% by 2008, using the seizures recorded in 2000 as a base figure. I also said that significant progress was being made in relation to achieving this target in that the estimated street value of drugs seized in 2001 was over €50 million compared to a value of €20 million for the previous year.

In relation to the principal objectives of public policy on tackling the drugs problem, while such supply reduction actions obviously play a key role, they will to continue to form just one element of the Government's overall strategic approach in addressing this issue. A multi-agency approach has been recognised by Government as providing the best possible framework to deal with the drugs problem. This approach has developed around the four pillars of supply reduction, prevention and education, treatment and rehabilitation and research and information. Central to this approach has been the bringing together of key agencies in a planned and co-ordinated manner to develop a range of appropriate responses to tackle drug misuse.

The national drugs strategy 2001-08 brings together all elements of this drugs policy into a single framework. It is the result of the most comprehensive analysis and assessment of the drugs problem ever conducted in Ireland. Responsibilities are clearly assigned across Departments and agencies who will implement a series of 100 individual actions across the four pillars.

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