Liberalising drug laws in the Republic of Ireland would be a serious cause for concern to the gardaí, a senior officer has said.
Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly, the head of Ireland’s fight against organised crime, told the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use (CAD) that decriminalisation will have significant social consequences.
Kelly recently highlighted Ireland’s “insatiable appetite” for cocaine and warned that legalising illicit drugs risked a surge in open use.
Damage to society
Speaking to CAD, which is set to make its recommendations to the Oireachtas by the end 2023, Kelly said that the Garda Síochána “has grave concerns around any potential legalisation of controlled drugs”.
“These concerns”, the Assistant Commissioner added, “are based on the implications for the whole of our society.”
He also warned that reports from the Americas show that legalisation “will not remove the influence of organised crime groups”.
Such groups, he explained, “will continue to maintain the illicit black market undercutting legal prices and increasing strengths of drugs”.
Recently, hundreds of concerned Dublin residents and business owners met with the Garda to discuss the impact of anti-social behaviour, including people openly buying and taking hard drugs in the city centre.
One business owner who attended the meeting told the Irish Daily Mail that the city centre had become “some sort of open-air drug supermarket”.
She said she watches people “selling and taking crack and heroin here every week” and that her customers were “nervous coming into town” because of anti-social behaviour.
Psychiatrist and addiction specialist Professor Colin O’Gara has described cocaine use as a “public health crisis”, suggesting that the country appeared to be “in the middle of an epidemic of cocaine”.