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Just one person was handed the minimum 10-year sentence for possessing €13k of drugs last year

That’s out of a total of 142 convicted.

Image: Shutterstock/FabrikaSimf

ONLY ONE PERSON convicted of possession of drugs with a value of more than €13,000 received a prison sentence of more than 10 years, newly released figures have shown. 

Under current laws, anyone caught with over €13k of drugs is subject to stricter punishments under Section 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Where the market value of the drugs is €13,000 or more, the person convicted is liable for a minimum sentence of 10 years.

However this does not apply if the court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances. Similar penalties apply to someone convicted of importing drugs with a value of €13,000 or more.

Figures provided by the Courts Service showed that a total of 142 people were jailed in Ireland as a result of possession of drugs over the value of €13k. 141 of those were handed sentences of less than ten years. 

That 142 breaks down as follows: 

  • A sentence of less than one year: 1 person 
  • Between 1 and 3 years: 37 people
  • More than 3 years and up to 5: 61 people
  • More than 5 years up to 10 years: 42 people 
  • More than 10 years: 1 person 

These numbers refer to the complete sentence imposed by a judge including parts of the sentence that may be suspended, and do not necessarily reflect the full time that will be served. 

The figures were obtained by Fianna Fáíl’s John Curran, who is the party’s spokesman for the National Drugs Strategy. He said that tougher jail terms must be handed down to those caught with significant amounts of drugs. 

Curran said: “It’s shocking to see that only one person has received a sentence of more than ten years for such a serious crime.

“It’s time we begin to get serious when it comes to drug crime as we already have an existing drug problem in the country which needs to be curtailed. Judicial sentences must reflect the gravity of the crime.”

I recently called on the Minister for Justice to put in place an operation to thwart and put to an end to the very public face of on-street drug dealing. It has become a norm in certain areas. People are fearful and are avoiding certain parts of the city because on-street drug dealing has become so prevalent.

Earlier this week, TheJournal.ie reported how gardaí in Dublin city centre launched a crackdown on ‘nuisance’ hand-to-hand drug deals taking place at well-known hot-spots for dealing in the capital.

The crackdowns will targeting areas of the quays as well as particular areas of the Liberties in the south inner city. The boardwalks along the quays will be a particular priority for gardaí. A number of other streets around these areas will also be targeted. 

This comes at a time when Operation Open City launched in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. This operation is designed to help traffic flow through increased garda patrols on major routes and link roads during peak commuter hours and will see additional gardaí patrolling areas where many traffic laws are flouted.

New drug laws

In August of this year, the Government announced new plans for dealing with personal drug use, which will see first time offenders referred to the HSE for health screening. 

The changes are being made as part of a new health-led approach to personal drug use, instead of criminalising those found with drugs.

In the first instance of being found in possession, gardaí will refer the person to health services. In the second instance, the gardaí will have discretion to issue an adult caution. Third and further offences will be treated within the criminal justice system, as is the case currently. 

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