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  • Northside East

Garda Drug Unit figures criticised

Thursday, 14th January, 2016 8:00am

Story by Pat O'Rourke
Garda Drug Unit figures criticised
Garda Drug Unit figures criticised

A NORTHSIDE general election candidate has accused the Government of “ignoring” the country’s drug crisis after figures revealed a 28 per cent drop in Garda Drug Units from 2011 to 2015.

as hit back, highlighting its recruitment of 1,150 new gardaí since it ended the moratorium introduced by the previous Government in 2009. 

Senator Darragh O’Brien (FF), who will contest the Dublin Fingal constituency, was speaking after receiving figures from Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald which show that 359 gardaí were assigned to individual drug units in 2011. At the end of 2015, that figure was reduced to 257.

The figures for the local drugs units are:

• Dublin Metropolitan Region North (DMRN): 2011 (32); 2015 (25)

• Dublin Metropolitan Region East (DMRE): 2011 (15); 2015 (10)

• Dublin Metropolitan Region West: 2011 (35); 2015 (26)

However, the Dublin Metropolitan Region North Central (DMRNC) has seen a slight increase, with 19 officers assigned to this unit at the end of 2015 – there were 18 in 2011. 

Senator O’Brien, who is chairperson of the North Dublin Regional Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce, described the figures as an “appalling indictment of the Government’s attitude to drug crime”.

“This Government has turned a blind eye to the ever increasing prevalence of drugs and drug-related crime in every single community across this country,” he claimed.

“You only have to walk through any of our cities or towns to see that drug abuse is on the rise. 

“The drugs racket is bigger and more profitable than ever but instead of addressing this, Fine Gael and Labour have been pulling resources away from tackling the problem at a dramatic rate.”

Senator O’Brien claimed the figures show that the gardaí are being severely hampered in preventing and investigating drug-related crime. 

“Units in the capital city are seeing their numbers depleted at an alarming rate,” he stated. 

“The policy of ignoring Ireland’s drugs crisis has put communities and vulnerable individuals at serious risk. We cannot accept this any longer.”

Senator O’Brien has called for a strong programme of measures to tackle drug crime and to help the ever-increasing number of victims of drugs. 

“The first step must be the reinstatement of fully resourced dedicated drugs units in all Garda divisions,” he added.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said the Government has ended the moratorium on Garda recruitment introduced by the previous Government in 2009 and provided for the employment of 1,150 new gardaí, including 600 this year. 

“The Government wants gardaí to be mobile and visible in the community, not stuck behind desks in stations and that is why it has invested over €34 million in new Garda vehicles since 2012,” he told Northside People.

“This represents a significant increase on the €4.8 million provided by the last Government in their last three budgets. 

“Over 720 new vehicles are coming on stream since the start of 2015. The response to burglaries is being further supported through the investment earlier this year of €1.75 million to upgrade Garda air surveillance equipment this year so as to (help) gardaí to better track criminal gangs and burglars from the air, particularly at night.”

The spokesman added: “The allocation of resources is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.” 

 

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