26 Jan 2022

Dundalk TD says Bill for seized criminal assets to go back into community moves to second stage

Dundalk TD says Bill for seized criminal assets to go back into community moves to second stage

Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú

A bill that seeks the reinvestment of money from seized criminal assets into disadvantaged communities that has been brought forward by Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú moves to second stage in the Dáil this week.

The Proceeds of Crime (Investment in Disadvantaged Communities) Bill was introduced earlier this year by Deputy Ó Murchú and Deputy Mark Ward.

The purpose of the bill is "to require the Minister for Finance to carry out a review of the financial supports required for disadvantaged communities affected by crime and reinvest the money generated through the seizure of assets by the Criminal Assets Bureau in those communities, with a view to alleviating the impact of crime and enhancing crime prevention measures".

The bill seeks to amend the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 to require the Minister to complete a review at least every 24 months, which examines the additional financial supports required by disadvantaged communities impacted by crime.

This new subsection places a legal obligation on the Minister to consider the review and ensure that the areas identified are prioritised when determining the use for the monies generated under the Proceeds of Crime legislation.

The review must be carried out in consultation with communities and identify the supports required which could alleviate some of the impact of crime as well as the supports required to help prevent future crime.

Deputy Ó Murchú said he is looking forward to the bill progressing.

He said: "Areas like Dundalk and Drogheda have been absolutely ravaged with this problem.

"Unfortunately few places in the State have escaped this problem.

"We need to ensure that money seized by CAB goes to the right places, such as addiction services and interventions particularly in areas affected.

"This money must be in addition to, not a replacement for, proper State funding for required services.
"We have had successive governments not taking the drugs problem, and the devastation it causes families and communities, seriously enough.

"We are still suffering from under investment and the lack of a whole of government response.

"The second stage of this bill is coming at a pivotal time where the Family Addiction Support Network (FASN) in Dundalk is battling for funding for its survival.

"I have spoken to Minister Frank Feighan about what is happening with FASN and it is hoped that a pathway for funding can be charted.

"It is absolutely critical that this essential support service for families, some of whom are facing serious threats from drugs gangs over alleged debts, remains open.

"This is happening at a time when the report published by Health Research Board recently shows that cocaine use has doubled since 2003 in men aged between 25 and 34."

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