Figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal a dramatic cut in the number of gardaí working to prevent and investigate drug crime.
The figures were released by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald in response to a Parliamentary Question from Fianna Fáil. They show that the number of gardaí assigned to dedicated divisional garda drugs units has been slashed from 361 officers in 2011 to 253 in 2014.
Areas in Dublin have seen a drastic reduction in resources for dedicated drugs squads, with the number of officers cut from 149 in 2011 to 106 last year. The Dublin North division has lost half of its drugs gardaí, cut from 32 to 16 over three years, while 11 gardaí have been pulled from the garda drugs unit in Dublin West and 14 pulled from the garda drugs units in south Dublin.
The entire Cavan-Monaghan garda district now has no garda drugs unit whatsoever, while it had 8 gardaí dedicated working to combat drug crime in 2011. Wexford only had 1 garda working in its garda drugs unit in 2014 – down from 11 in 2011. Limerick has also seen a drastic cut from 20 gardaí to 12 gardaí in its drug unit, while the number of gardaí in the drugs unit in Laois-Offaly has been halved from 6 to 3.
Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins TD has described the figures as an “appalling reflection of the Government’s stance on 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,” said Deputy Collins.
“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, this Government is actually pulling resources away from tackling the problem at a dramatic rate. It’s nothing short of a disgrace.
“These figures show that the gardaí are being severely hampered in preventing and investigating drug related crime. It is shocking that a vulnerable border region like Cavan-Monaghan would be without any dedicated garda drug unit whatsoever. Meanwhile gardaí are being pulled from tackling drug crime in the capital city at an alarming rate.
“The policy of ignoring Ireland’s drugs crisis has put communities and vulnerable individuals at serious risk. We cannot accept this any longer. We need 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 and the reinstatement of a Minister for Drugs that will oversee a crack-down on drug crime in this country.”