03 January 2006

Republic’s drug trade worth €1bn a year, says TD

Daily Ireland

DAVID LYNCH

The illegal drugs trade in the Republic is now a “€1 billion per year industry”, according to the Labour Party.
Joe Costello TD, the party’s justice spokesman, said yesterday that figures revealed at the weekend demonstrated that the illegal drugs trade was now worth €1 billion (£686 million) per year.
He said it “demands an entirely new strategy from the government, especially towards cocaine and other ‘fashionable’ drugs”.
He added: “These figures clearly show that our streets and communities are awash with drugs. Cocaine, in particular, has now become the main hard drug in Ireland — one that is not confined to any particular social class or geographical area.
“The fact that we are now seeing a huge rise in the number of seizures of the drug demonstrates its much freer availability.
“With informed Garda sources estimating that only ten per cent of the total cocaine in Ireland is seized by authorities, it is clear that our cocaine epidemic is much worse than the government is willing to accept.
“Their approach of ‘pilot initiatives’ to this growing and worrying problem is ludicrous.
“In a reply last month to a question of mine about the urgent need to tackle the growing cocaine problem, Minister Noel Ahern blandly told me that he had approved funding of €400,000 [£274,000] for the establishment of four pilot treatment interventions for 2005.
“Meanwhile, cocaine is readily available throughout the country.
“€400,000 for pilot initiatives will not have the slightest impact on this rapidly expanding multibillion illegal drug industry,” said Deputy Costello.

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