Figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal a substantial cut in the number of Gardaí working to prevent and investigate drug crime. The party’s Dublin Spokesperson Senator Darragh O’Brien has described the figures as an “appalling indictment of the Government’s attitude to 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 divisional Garda drugs units has been slashed from 359 officers in 2011 to 257 in 2015 – a cut of 28%.
Areas in Dublin have seen a severe reduction in resources for dedicated drugs squads, with the number of officers cut from 147 in 2011 to 115 this year. The Dublin South division has lost almost half of its drugs Gardaí, cut from 31 to 16 over four years, while 9 Gardaí have been pulled from the Garda drugs unit in Dublin West.
The entire Cavan-Monaghan Garda district has no Garda drugs unit whatsoever and Laois-Offaly has also lost the six officers it had in 2011. Wexford has only 1 Garda working in its drugs unit – down from 11 in 2011. Limerick has seen a halving from 20 to 10 Gardaí, while Wicklow has lost almost two-thirds of its 2011 complement.
Senator O’Brien, who is Chairperson of the North Dublin Regional Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce commented, “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.
“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 Fine Gael and Labour have been 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 units in the capital city are seeing their numbers depleted 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,” urged Senator O’Brien.