Published: 20 December 2005

The illicit drug market in Ireland

The purpose of this Overview is to compile and analyse existing data sources and available research, to identify gaps in knowledge and to inform future research needs in this important area of drug policy. The study concludes the following:

• The total number of drug seizures reported in the annual reports of the Garda Síochána decreased by 17.2 per cent between 2000 and 2003, the most recent year for which figures are available. The total number of seizures increased from 5,603 in 2002 to 6,377 in 2003.

• Cannabis remains the principal drug seized in Ireland, accounting for 58 per cent of the total number of reported seizures in 2003. Between 2000 and 2003, there was a 20 per cent decrease in the number of cannabis seizures.

• Ecstasy is the second most commonly seized drug in Ireland. Following a sharp increase in the number of ecstasy seizures, from 347 in 1997 to 1,864 in 2000, there was a decrease to 1,027 seizures in 2002 and then a slight increase to a total of 1,083 seizures in 2003. This appears to be consistent with the broader EU trend in ecstasy seizures.

• Heroin seizures decreased by just under 18 per cent since 2001, down from 802 in 2001 to 660 in 2003.

• An upward trend in cocaine seizures in recent years is evident. The number of cocaine seizures increased steadily since 1995, from 42 seizures in 1995 to 566 in 2003, a growth of more than 1,200 per cent. Since 2000 the quantity of cocaine seized has increased by just less than 500 per cent. A small number of crack cocaine seizures were made in 2003.


  • Johnny Connolly

Publication (PDF, 424 KB)

Publication (PDF, 424 KB)

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