137. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Justice the plans that are in place to reduce the number of drugs offences; the number of gardaí in County Tipperary currently assigned to drugs duty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51426/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I am acutely aware of the sustained and significant damage that drug dealing has on the communities across the country. Organised criminal activity, including drug dealing, represents a serious threat to community safety. As the Deputy will be aware, the National Drug and Alcohol Strategy, which emphasises a health-led approach to addressing the challenge of drugs in our society, is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Health. 
As the Deputy will also be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána. This includes responsibility for decisions on the distribution of resources and personnel. As Minister, I have no direct role in this matter.
However I can assure the Deputy that the continued disruption of the supply of all illicit drugs remains a priority for An Garda Síochána and the other state agencies tasked with responsibilities in this regard. A concerted effort has been made over the past year to ensure that the detection and prevention of these types of criminal activity have not been adversely affected by the unprecedented demands placed on policing services by the vital support of public health guidelines.
On 2 July 2021, 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.
I am advised that three operations are underway in the Tipperary Division to tackle criminality related to drugs. Operation Overwatch is a divisional operation under the auspices of Operation Tara to target the sale and supply of drugs and that, as part of this operation, an intelligence-led operation is currently focused on the supply of drugs within the division, utilising support from Regional Units.
I am further informed that Operation Raffle is an anti-drugs operation specific to the Clonmel District and that Operation Geall is targeting offenders involved in organised crime, including drug trafficking, in the Tipperary Division.
The number of Garda members attached to the Tipperary Drugs Unit, as at 15 October 2021, is 1 Sergeant and 10 Gardaí. The members of this unit also work collaboratively with all Gardaí in the community.