Public not being educated about the dangers of drug-taking – Drew Harris

Garda Commissioner calls for more campaigns to highlight impact on communities

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has called for greater public information campaigns about the health and societal impacts of drug dealing amid concern that drug use is increasing in Ireland.

Mr Harris told a Joint Policing Committee meeting at Cork County Hall that he did not believe enough was being done to educate people about the impact that drug-taking could have on individuals and on society.

“I don’t see enough public information about the effects of drug-taking – the effects on health and the effects on society, and in particular [on] families and communities who are affected by drugs and the associated violence.

Mr Harris said that cannabis usage was becoming a particularly serious problem in recent years in that the cannabis which is now being sold on the streets is far more potent than the cannabis that was available 30 years ago.


There have been three murders in as many weeks that we believe are linked to turf wars around drug gangs

He said much of the cannabis that gardaí were now encountering was being produced in growhouses in Ireland rather than being imported from abroad and thus was more potent and dangerous when it was hitting the streets.


Equally dangerous was the increase in cocaine consumption in Ireland, and cocaine users should be aware of the devastating impact that cocaine trafficking was having on countries and economies in South America.

“There is also a need for more public information about the impact the drugs trade has in terms of violence – there have been three murders in as many weeks that we believe are linked to turf wars around drug gangs.

“Allied to that, people should be aware of how the scourge of drugs affects families who are being intimidated over a family member building up a drug debt,” he added.

Mr Harris told the meeting on Monday that gardaí would launch a fresh campaign in the New Year targeting drug dealing on the streets as part of a renewed effort to support communities.

Drug offences

Chief Supt Con Cadogan revealed drug offences were up in Cork City Division for the first 10 months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, while there were marginal decreases for drug offences in Cork West and Cork North.

In Cork City Division, the number of cases of possessing drugs for personal use rose from 578 for the first eight months of 2018 to 728 for same period in 2019 while possessions of drug for sale or supply rose from 137 to 154.

In Cork North Division, the number of possessions for personal use fell from 431 to 402 while possessions for sale or supply fell from 101 to 74. The figures for Cork West Division show falls from 245 to 220 and from 49 to 41.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times