“Throwing In The Towel”


This afternoon.


From top: Garrett Sheehan, chairman of the The Working Group to Consider Alternative Approaches to the Possession of Drugs for Personal Us;  At the announcement this morning of a ‘health-led’ approach to the possession of drugs for personal use were, from left Minister for Health, Simon Harris; Minister of State with responsibility for Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD; and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan

This morning.

First and second time drug offenders will escape criminal conviction for possession

However, the recommendation to remove imprisonment for all drug possession cases as recommended by a special working group, has been rejected. by the government.


The Working Group to Consider Alternative Approaches to the Possession of Drugs for Personal Use was meant to report at the end of last year but there was disagreement among its membership which included representatives of the departments of Health and Justice, An Garda Síochána, the Probation Service, the DPP, HSE, Health Research Board, as well as two people with experience of drugs.

The working group recommended that there should not be an option to imprison someone caught for possession of drugs and offered a system of multiple adult cautions along with diversions to treatment as alternative options.

However, the chairman of the working group, former judge and criminal defence solicitor Garrett Sheehan, issued a minority report saying any moves towards decriminalisation would be “throwing in the towel” on the potential of young people.

He advocated instead an education campaign to make drug taking just as socially unacceptable as smoking in public places….

Good times.

New policy to cover first, second time drug offenders (RTÉ)


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14 thoughts on ““Throwing In The Towel”

  1. The Old Boy

    This is hardly much of a change – first time offenders on a drugs possession charge invariably receive the benefit of the Probation Act and are discharged without a conviction.

    Most of the imprisonment associated with drug use isn’t because of simple personal possession in any case; it’s petty thievery and mugging to feed a habit, or small-time dealing, couriering or storage to pay off a drug debt.

    1. george

      Not getting arrested is a bit of a change. It is a shame the pearl clutching judge threw his toys out of the pram though.

      1. The Old Boy

        I am frankly struggling to remember the last time I encountered an arrest for possession of drugs for personal use alone. It gets tacked on to public order offences often enough, but I think even the Guards have come to the conclusion that it’s a waste of resources to nick anyone walking down the street smoking a joint. I would hope that this change would at least confirm that approach.

        It’s worth noting that this report doesn’t seem to change the position on arrest itself, but rather charge after arrest. In reality of course, it would become apparent to Gardaí that arresting in such cases is a pointless exercise.

        1. ivan

          Your mileage can vary; in my particular one-horse-town it’s quite possible

          a) to get charged with just possession (first time) and
          b) to get convicted

          Depending on the beak in question (and we tend to have a bit of rotation for a few reasons I don’t need to go into) you can have

          a) probation act for first offence – go forth and sin no more
          b) donation to charity and probation act
          c) conviction and fine (small amount) which certainly nobbles American visa applications.

          Guards don’t like it either and there’s an element of adjourning (on conset) depending on who you’re in front of which makes a mockery of the whole thing. Mind you, that’s what client pays for – knowing the judge.

          1. The Old Boy

            Very true Ivan – a solicitor outside of Dublin recently told me of the new local District Judge. “He’s wrong, but reliably so.”

            At least the new measures, should they be implemented, will get rid of some of that arbitrary uncertainty in these cases.

  2. phil

    I suppose they setup a constitutional convention to offer recommendations , however I assume they have learned that lesson, they wont get the answer they want from that ….

  3. Kingfisher

    Portugal is the only country with a tried and tested and successful drugs policy; FG were too scared of their voters to replicate it (also, there’s no profit motive).

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