Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her assessment regarding the problem of drug taking in Dublin city centre (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24129/15]
140. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the powers that An Garda Síochána has when dealing with persons openly taking drugs on the streets of Dublin city centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24130/15]
141. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide an update regarding Operation Spire, its success in tackling drug taking on the streets of Dublin city centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24131/15]
142. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures she is considering to address the problem of drug taking on the streets of Dublin city centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24132/15]
143. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide details of the discussions she has held with other Departments regarding the need for a strategy to be developed to address the problem of drug taking and anti-social behaviour on Dublin city centre streets; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24133/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 139 to 143, inclusive, together.
I am of course aware of the issues raised in the media reports referred to by the Deputy and I am sure the Deputy would concur that the issues involved are not simply policing ones.
In relation to specific Garda responses I can assure the Deputy that I am in ongoing contact with the Garda Commissioner in relation to the measures which are being taken to deal with crime and public safety in the city centre area. I am advised that Gardaí make full use of the extensive range of legislation which is in place to address street crime and anti-social behaviour, including drug related crime.
The Garda response to the particular issues raised forms part of the overall and ongoing implementation of the Dublin City Centre Policing Plan. This involves a high-visibility uniformed presence on key thoroughfares, as well as the use of undercover Gardaí as appropriate. A range of measures are in place to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in the city centre. These include Operation Spire, which provides for a high visibility policing presence specifically on O’Connell Street at critical times to address anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and related crime. The operation is designed as a preventative measure and the area is patrolled by uniform patrols supplemented as required by Crime Prevention Unit and Divisional Crime Task Force personnel. Garda strategy is also supported by other operations including Operation Pier which focuses on the Pearse Street District, as well as Operation Viking and Operation Clean Streets which further target the sale and supply of illicit drugs in the city centre.
I think it is generally accepted that the complex issues which contribute to drug addiction and related behaviours must be addressed in a coordinated and cross-cutting manner. In response to the particular issues arising in Dublin City Centre a multi-agency street outreach approach is being used to work with vulnerable and high-risk individuals and an offender management programme is being piloted to address repeat offending in the Dublin City area. These measures, combined with the Government's initiatives to tackle homelessness, are helping to address the broader aspects of the problems referred to by the Deputy.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Government's overall response to the problem of drug misuse generally, is set out in the National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009-2016. The Strategy provides a coordinated and comprehensive response founded on a partnership approach.
The Strategy is being delivered under the stewardship of my colleague, Minister of State Ó Ríordáin at the Department of Health, in his capacity as Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy. The Strategy, the implementation of which is monitored by the Oversight Forum on Drugs Group chaired by Minister of State Ó Ríordáin, adopts a pillar based approach to the problem involving the implementation of a wide range of measures across the five pillars of drug supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. The Group includes representatives from the key Departments and agencies involved in the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy.
My Department and its agencies continue to progress the actions assigned to the criminal justice sector under the National Strategy and to actively participate in all of the structures in place under the Strategy.