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142. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice if her attention has been drawn to the fact that drug offences in Cork are rising; the drug squad numbers in the Cork division in each the years 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51549/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible under the law for the management, administration and operational functions of An Garda Síochána. The detection of and response to any criminal activity, and the distribution of Garda resources are strictly operational matters for the Commissioner and his management team. As Minister, I have no direct role in the On 1st July 2021 An Garda Síochána commenced an enhanced national anti-drugs strategy - Operation Tara.
I welcome Operation Tara, the goal of which is to protect communities from the scourge of illegal drugs in line with An Garda Síochána’s mission of Keeping People Safe. The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels - international, national, local - involved in the importation, distribution, cultivation, production, local sale and supply of controlled drugs. Under Operation Tara, individuals and groups involved in the drug trade will be the target of enforcement activity based on intelligence and the latest crime trends.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the additional resources that have been assigned to the drug unit as part of Operation Tara has led to an increase in the detection of crime in the Division, which has in turn has led to an approximate 7% increase in controlled drug offences in the Cork City Garda Division, according to the CSO. This also reflects the increased Garda numbers on frontline policing duties and the concentrated work of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) both in Cork and nationwide.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that the table below outlines the number of Garda members attached to the Drugs Unit in the Cork City Division, and the number who have been added as part of operation Tara, for the years requested by the Deputy. I am assured that the Garda authorities keep this distribution under constant review, to ensure the optimum use of available Garda members.

  Sergeant Garda
November 2019 2 17
November 2020 2 21 (inc.10, Operation Tara)
Currently 1 20 (inc. 10, Operation Tara)