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war is lost New figures reveal how €72m worth of cocaine and heroin were seized last year

According to Revenue, the total value of drugs seized in 2021 was €115m – up from €45m the previous year

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There was a seven-fold increase in the value of cocaine and heroin seized by Revenue last year

There was a seven-fold increase in the value of cocaine and heroin seized by Revenue last year

There was a seven-fold increase in the value of cocaine and heroin seized by Revenue last year

Irish society has lost the war on drugs, a top retired Garda has said, as it was revealed how there was a seven-fold increase in the value of cocaine and heroin seized by Revenue last year. 

Freedom of Information figures released to Newstalk show that €72m worth of cocaine and heroin were seized last year, compared to just €10m the previous year.

However, according to Revenue, the total value of drugs seized in 2021 was €115m – up from €45m the previous year.

Retired Garda Detective Inspector Pat Marry said it is time to consider a new approach as Irish society had lost the war on drugs.

“Cannabis and cocaine – maybe there might be an argument there for decriminalising people having it on their person, like a certain amount,” he said.

“They did it in Portugal and they are reaping the benefits now of their strategy there because they had a huge suicide rate and now the suicide rate has dropped dramatically.”

He pointed out that Portugal has seen no arrests for personal possession in the past 16 years.

In 2015, an Oireachtas Justice Committee travelled to Portugal to see first-hand the effect of the country's decriminalisation policy.

In 2019, the working group called for a “health-led approach” to the possession of drugs for personal use.

A Citizens’ Assembly on drug use is to start work next year after the Government set up a working group five years ago to examine alternatives to conviction for minor drug offences.

In 2020, Ireland had the third highest death toll from drugs in Europe behind only Britain and Sweden.

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