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I. Summary

Ireland is not a transshipment point for narcotics to the United States, nor is it a hub for drug trafficking. The ability to travel between Ireland and the U.K. document-free does pose a unique challenge for Irish law enforcement officials. According to Government of Ireland (GOI) officials, overall drug use in Ireland continues to remain steady, with the exception of cocaine use, which continues its upward trend. The overall strategic objective of the GOI's National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 is "To continue to tackle the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs though a concerted focus on the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research". Ireland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Ireland is not a transit point for drugs to the United States, but it is occasionally used as a transit point for narcotics trafficking to other parts of Europe, including across its land border to Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. Ireland is not a significant source of illicit narcotics, though officials have seized a large quantity of diverted precursors (Euro 500 million worth) intended to manufacture Ecstasy and amphetamines.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2009

Policy Initiatives. Following a comprehensive consultation process which took place during 2008 and early in 2009, a new National Drugs Strategy for the period 2009-2016 was developed and agreed on. As stated above, the objective of the strategy is "To continue to tackle the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs though a concerted focus on the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research".

Throughout the consultation process for the National Drugs Strategy, the issue of problem alcohol use was highlighted. Alcohol was seen, for many, as a gateway to illicit drug use and poly-drug use, often including alcohol, and is now the norm among illicit drug users. People also had serious concerns about the high level of alcohol consumption in Ireland, the pattern of drinking, especially binge drinking, among young people and in the community generally, and the wider social harms which are associated with the misuse of alcohol. In March 2009, the GOI approved the development of a combined Substance Misuse policy to include alcohol and drugs, to facilitate a more coherent approach to the issues and consequences of alcohol and illicit drug use. Work on the development of an integrated National Substance Misuse Strategy which will incorporate the already agreed Drugs policy has commenced and is expected to be completed in 2010.

Substance abuse programs are part of every school curriculum in the country. The campaigns feature television and radio advertising and lectures by police, supported by an information brochure and website, all designed to promote greater awareness of and communication about drug issues. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs continues to support the work of the 14 Local Drugs Task Forces (LDTF) in Dublin, Bray, and Cork as well as the 10 Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTF), throughout the country. Approximately 36 million [euro] in current funding and 4.6 million [euro] in capital funding was made available to the Department in 2009. Approximately 600 projects are funded through the task forces. Under the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF), further facilities and services were provided for young people at risk of becoming involved with drugs. The increased funding provided staffing and continuing costs for projects in existing areas and facilitated the expansion of the YPFSF into four new towns: Arklow, Athlone, Dundalk and Wexford. In October 2008, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) announced the transfer of the YPFSF into the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to facilitate a more coordinated approach to policies for young people at risk.

The Dial-to-Stop Drug Dealing Campaign, launched in October 2008 and continued through July 2009, have been rolled out successfully in 3 phases through 15 of the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces. Three phases of the campaigns have been completed and nearly 5,500 calls were made to the confidential number by mid-November 2009. Calls came from across the country including areas that did not directly run a campaign. This highlights the fact that the confidential number used in the campaign is open to all to use regardless of the area one comes from. The Campaign was originally due to cease operation in September 2009, but due to the positive outcomes being achieved, the Minister for Drugs decided to continue it with further funding from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

The 2006/2007 Drug Prevalence Survey: "Drug Use in Ireland and Northern Ireland" was published in October 2008. While overall current drug use has stabilized cocaine use has increased. There is a general consensus that heroin use has stabilized in Dublin while increasing, from a low base, in other urban centers, particularly in Leinster and in the South of the country.

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs coordinated the Irish input into the preparation of the EU Action Plan on Drugs 2009-2012. The British-Irish Council met on a number of occasions and discussed Youth Justice Systems, Drug Related Death indices and Prevention.

Accomplishments. Prosecutions increased in 2008, the majority of which were for drug possession, which has risen steadily since 2003, and accounted for 77.3 percent of the total drug offences prosecuted in 2008. The number of simple possession offences increased from 14,033 in 2007 to 18,093 in 2008.

The number of supply offences leading to a prosecution in 2007 was 2,831, representing 22.1 percent of the total number of offences prosecuted (Figures for 2008 are not yet available). Recorded headline drug offences in 2008 rose by 4,851 (26.1 percent). The largest offence type, Possession of drugs for sale or supply, increased by 800 (19.4 percent) while recorded Cultivation, manufacture or importation of drugs offences increased by 57 (35.4 percent) over the year. The Irish Police continued to cooperate closely with other national police forces. In November, Irish Police arrested three British nationals for their part in an international cocaine smuggling network following information from the British Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) and the Lisbon-based European anti drugs agency Maritime Analysis and Operations Center--Narcotics (MAOC-N), of which Ireland is a participating member.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Although official statistics are not yet available for 2009, the Irish Police confirmed that drug-related arrests fell in 2009. It is believed that this decrease is due to the fact that many drug dealers are suffering from the credit crunch and a shortage of cash in distribution. It is also likely that less drugs were imported in 2009. There are normally 7,000-8,000 arrests annually, including approximately 450 arrests made by the Garda National Drug Unit (GNDU) each year. The GNDU's arrests tend to include most of the large seizures, but local police also have had some notable success.

Police sources said, contrary to widely-held perceptions, the value of cocaine seizures decreased in 2008, while the value of heroin seized increased. Sources said the rise in the quantity of heroin being offered for sale was directly related to large opium crops in Afghanistan.

Police sources say the increase in quantities seized and arrests made in 2008 compared to 2007 was a function of enhanced efforts rather than an increase in narcotic use.

At the invitation of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's London Country Office, the Irish Police became full members of the International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) in 2009.

On March 28, 10 kilograms of uncut heroin, valued at up to 8 million [euro] was found when armed members of the Garda National Drugs Unit and Organized Crime Unit searched a car in North Dublin. On May 1, Garda recovered 50 kilograms of cocaine, with a street value of 3.5 million [euro], in Drogheda, County Louth. The Garda were assisted by the Garda Dog Unit, Garda National Drugs Unit, members of the Criminal Assets Bureau, and Customs and Excise officers, during a three month operation. Five people were arrested after Garda seized cocaine, valued at 1.5 million [euro], in Dublin on July 1. On September 11, a Dutch national was arrested following a seizure of cannabis worth more than 8 million [euro] at Dublin Port. Officers from the Customs service supported by Garda seized 700 kilograms of the drug, which had been found vacuum packed in a 40ft Dutch-registered truck carrying a consignment of flowers. On September 17, joint operations by the Garda organized crime unit, Garda National Drugs Unit and Customs officials seized 1.1 tons of cannabis resin, worth 2 million [euro] in Dunboyne, County Meath. The drugs had arrived at Dublin Port on a container from Spain and were concealed under a consignment of detergents and fabric cleansers. In a separate operation on the same day, 15 kilograms of heroin, worth 2 million [euro], was seized in County Kildare. On November 4, Garda seized 100 kilograms of cannabis (75 kilograms herbal and 25 kilograms of resin) with a value of 1 million [euro], in a joint operation involving officers from the Customs Service and the Garda National Drug Unit, in Blessington, County Wicklow. The drugs had arrived from the Netherlands through Dublin Port concealed in a consignment of lamps and clothing. On November 28, Garda in County Carlow arrested one man following the seizure of 20 kilograms of cannabis herb and 8 kilograms of amphetamines worth an estimated 400,000 [euro]. In Athlone, County Westmeath, local Garda seized 20 kilograms of cocaine, with an approximate value of 1.4 million [euro], and five kilograms of cannabis resin with an approximate value of 60,000 [euro], on November 29.

Corruption. As a matter of government policy, the GOI does not encourage or facilitate illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. There are also no known reports of senior officials of the government engaging in, encouraging, or facilitating the illicit production or distribution of such drugs or substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions.

Agreements and Treaties. Ireland is a party to the 1998 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Ireland has signed, but has not yet ratified, the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption. An extradition treaty and mutual legal assistance treaty are in force between the United States and Ireland. In addition, the two countries have concluded, pursuant to the 2003 U.S.-EU extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements, protocols to the bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties, which will enter into force on February 1, 2010.

Cultivation/Production. Only small amounts of cannabis are cultivated in Ireland. There is no evidence that synthetic drugs were produced domestically this year.

Drug Flow/Transit. Among drug abusers in Ireland, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, Ecstasy (MDMA), and heroin are the drugs of choice. A Council of Europe report on organized crime, published in January 2005, reported that Ireland had the highest rate of Ecstasy and amphetamine use in Europe and the second highest rate of cocaine abuse. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report 2008, published in June, placed Ireland in joint fifth place (out of 32 European countries) for cocaine use and in joint sixth place for Ecstasy use. South American cocaine, available in Ireland, comes primarily from Colombia and other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, and cannabis are often hidden in cars in either Spain or the Netherlands, and then driven into Ireland, by gang members posing as tourists, for distribution around the country. This distribution network is controlled by 6 to 12 Irish criminal gangs based in Spain and the Netherlands. Herbal cannabis is primarily imported from South Africa.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The Irish Demand Reduction Strategy mandates that each area Health Board have in place a number of treatment and rehabilitation options. In January 2005, the ten health boards were replaced by a single entity, the Health Service Executive (HSE), which manages Ireland's public health sector. Since September 2005, health care is now provided through four HSE regions and 32 local health offices. For heroin addicts, there are 71 methadone treatment locations. The treatment centers treat 9,000 of Ireland's approximately 15,000 heroin addicts, 13,000 of whom live in Dublin. A total of 1,612 individual prisoners received methadone in Irish prisons, accounting for about 10 percent of the total population sent to prison in 2007.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Policy Initiatives. In 2009, the United States continued legal and policy cooperation with the GOI, and benefited from Irish cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies such as the DEA. In addition, based on a recent MOU between DHS-ICE and DEA, DHS-ICE has begun to develop its investigative coordination role and intelligence sharing capabilities with Irish law enforcement counterparts. Information sharing between U.S. and Irish officials continued to strengthen law enforcement ties between the countries.

The Road Ahead. U.S. support for Ireland's counternarcotics program, along with U.S. and Irish cooperative efforts, continues to work to prevent Ireland from becoming a transit point for narcotics trafficking to the United States.
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Title Annotation:Country Reports
Publication:International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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