By Michael Brennan
The new measure would have allowed gardai to enter houses without a search warrant, as long as a senior officer suspected there was a risk of drugs being present. It could also have provided for random searches of people attending particular locations — such as music-concert venues or nightclubs — following on from the successful introduction of random testing for drink driving.
But Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said[…] “Accordingly I am unable to say at this stage when proposals will be available,”
The issue of gardai raiding house parties caused controversy last year after former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern claimed officers had the power to do so under the Misuse of Drugs Act. He later had to admit that legally gardai would require a warrant to raid private homes.
Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan said the Government should address the constitutional issues so the new powers could be given to gardai.
“With the use of drugs obviously higher than ever before, with a 30pc increase in drug offences in the last 12 months, the Government needs to respond to the drugs epidemic,” he said.
Gardai have carried out more than 46,000 drug searches in Dublin alone in the past three years. But Mr Flanagan said they were being “hampered” by the requirement to obtain search warrants in court for every operation.