Dáil Éireann - Volume 531 - 22 February, 2001

Written Answers. - Drug Seizures.

155. Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement on the growing presence of crack cocaine on the streets of Dublin; if, in view of the lethal consequences of this drug, he will ensure that the efforts of the gardaí are redoubled to prevent the importation of this drug; his views on whether the existing treatment programmes adequately deal with cocaine drug abusers; and his assessment as to the supply of this drug in Dublin city and elsewhere. [5191/01]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there were four seizures containing cocaine base, crack, with a combined weight of 72.6 grammes, during 2000. All these seizures occurred in the Dublin metropolitan region, three in the north central division and one in the south central division. The Garda has also informed me that there have been no seizures of cocaine base this year to date.

[477] The Garda authorities have assured me that there is no evidence of a growing presence of crack cocaine on the streets of Dublin and that they continuously monitor and analyse the trends and patterns in illicit drug use based upon seizure data. They are well aware from foreign experience of the addictive and behaviour changing nature of crack cocaine and, in this context, the incidence of cocaine base usage will be kept under review.

My colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, informs me that the treatment of those addicted to cocaine is primarily through counselling. The three area health boards of the Eastern Regional Health Authority have increased their counselling and outreach services in the last number of years. Individuals who are abusing cocaine and who present for treatment can attend any of the addiction centres where they will receive an emergency assessment and the most appropriate response would be determined for each particular individual. This response invariably involves linking in with a counsellor to examine the issues around cocaine use and may also involve the provision of support to family members.

The Minister for Health and Children has assured me that the drug services continue to monitor the emergence of new substances abuse, both through informal contact with drug users, formal links between outreach workers and user groups and also through examining statistical data which is collected on an ongoing basis by the national drug treatment reporting system.