Drugs with an estimated street value of more than €650,000 were seized by gardaí in Galway city for the whole of 2018; while the number of rapes reported increased by 15 per cent.
The statistics which were disclosed by Chief Superintendent Tom Curley at Monday’s JPC meeting at City Hall presented a total estimated street value of drugs of €658,204 were seized in the city last year, an increase of 40.8 per cent from 2017 (€389,667 ).
Assaults recorded in the city saw an increase with 92 assaults causing harm and 278 minor assaults recorded in 2018, up by seven and 39 respectively from the previous year, as well as the number of rape crimes (23 ) being recorded, increasing by 15 per cent. A breakdown of the statistics showed an estimated €132,930 worth of cocaine was seized in 2018, as well as €48,671 worth of ecstasy, €229,702 worth of cannabis, and €22,705 worth of heroin.
In response to a question from Fine Gael councillor Pádraig Conneely, Chief Superintendent Curley explained that a large chunk of the €224,196 drugs seized that were categorised as ‘other’ in the Garda report related to one major seizure of ketamine earlier in the year.
Sinn Féin councillor Mark Lohan said the statistics proved the drug industry was clearly a problem in the city and that there is "no doubt there is a multi-million drug industry" in Galway. He said: “The customer base [for drugs] has to be educated and tackled. We need to get the message out there that if you buy drugs, you are facilitating a criminal enterprise who hurt and, in some cases, murder people. The figures are worrying when this [total] is considered to be only five to 10 per cent of drugs that are out there.”
People Before Profit candidate for Galway City Central, Joe Loughnane, queried the measurement of valuing drugs: “What is the measurement of drug values? These [large] figures go out and this can spread a lot of fear [among the general public]. There is a big discrepancy in the value of cannabis in legalised countries and street value byguards.”
Responding to the councillors’ comments, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said there iarenational guidelines on drug estimated values with the majority based on weight. “These guidelines are strictly adhered to because you have to bring weighing scales into court [when prosecuting]. We have a very active drugs unit in Galway. It is also not a one agency approach [to tackling drugs] it is multi-agency. And unfortunately it [drugs] is not only in the city but it is in every village and town in the country.”
Overall crimes recorded in Galway city saw a decrease of 16 per cent from the previous year with 6,113 noted for 2018, down from 7,315 for 2017. Speeding was the biggest offence in the city with 2,330 crimes recorded, up seven per cent from the previous year, followed by parking offences, reported at 1,930. There were 1,318 cases of property crime recorded with 313 drug related crimes noted, 86 for sale or supply and 227 for simple possession.