Large quantities of cash seized during raids and drug searches carried out by Gardai in Louth should be redistributed to support vital support services in the county, Garda Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan has said.
Speaking during the July meeting of the Drogheda Borough Council’s Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Mangan said that Garda officers are routinely seizing large quantities of cash during searches carried out in the county, especially in the Drogheda area.
The county’s most senior officer told the meeting that any money seized by Gardai goes to the Department of Finance and there is currently no provision to ensure the money accumulated from the sale of supply of drugs in Louth stays in the area to provide necessary supports to those affected.
Speaking about the latest figures for the area which showed 129 arrests under Section 15 had been made in the Louth division in the first six months, Chief Supt Mangan said the large quantities of cash seized was an “an added dimension”, suggesting a dedicated Financial Services Unit may be required.
“We’re way ahead of other divisions with the amount of people arrested, double or treble the number in some cases,” he told the meeting. “Operation Status has had the desired effect. It hasn’t gone away but we are on top of it. A lot of these people are serving lengthy jail terms – but there’s always someone there to take their place.”
Independent councillor on Drogheda Borough Council Paddy McQuillan queried where the money that was seized as part of drug finds went, asking, “Can some money be redistributed into the community?”
Chief Superintendent Mangan said, “It would have a very positive effect on the public. It would be fantastic, a positive story.” He cited services such as The Red Door Project and the Family Addiction Support Network as two locally based services that could benefit from the money.
In the last month, Gardai across the county have seized over €400,000 worth in cash and substances as part of Operation Stratus actions. Operation Stratus commenced in October 2018 in Drogheda to combat organised crime activity in the area.
Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd told the meeting he had tabled a motion for such a provision a number of years ago. He said he would bring the matter to the new Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, who was in nearby Slane this morning for a meeting with the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.