556. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Justice if her attention has been drawn to the situation residents in a location (details supplied) are having with serious issues regarding the sale of drugs that may fall under the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010; and the supports that are being provided to local gardaí to combat same. [37441/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I can assure the Deputy that the Government is committed to supporting An Garda Síochána in tackling drug related crime throughout the State. There are now 321 Garda personnel in Divisional Drugs Units, as of 31 May 2021, assigned to tackle drug related crime on a local basis throughout the country. This represents an increase of over 4% since 30 June 2020, when there were 308 Gardaí assigned to Divisional Drugs units nationwide. These members are supported, as needed, by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, which has 93 Gardaí attached to it as of 31 May 2021.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the investigation of any individual cases are an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the matters to which the Deputy has referred are the subject of ongoing and active investigation by the Divisional Drugs Unit in Cork City and there has been a number of searches and seizures in this area over the last year. The Cork City Divisional Drugs Unit are coordinating these investigations and I understand that there is ongoing liaison with Forensic Science Ireland in relation to obtaining the relevant certificates to advance these investigations.
I am further informed that the Garda Superintendent with responsibility for Community Engagement in Cork City North has been actively facilitating liaison with the residents of the area through the community policing team, and there are regular proactive policing patrols in the area to combat this activity and other antisocial behaviour.
The Deputy may be further interested to note that on 1 July, An Garda Síochána commenced an enhanced national anti-drugs strategy - Operation Tara - which has a strong focus on tackling street-level dealing throughout rural and urban Ireland. The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels - international, national and local - involved in the importation, distribution, cultivation, production, local sale and supply of controlled drugs.