TD for Dublin Mid-West Mark Ward has welcomed news that the Criminal Assets Bureau recovered almost €11 million from criminals last year. But he has urged the government to ringfence money returned to the Exchequer and reinvest it back into disadvantaged communities.
Teachta Ward said: “I welcome the news that CAB seized almost €5.4million in assets and cash from drug dealers and criminal gangs last year. This money was returned to the Exchequer. “CAB also returned €5.5 million to six victims of cryptocurrency theft. “Sinn Féin has always advocated that any money returned to the Exchequer by CAB should be ring-fenced and put back into communities to tackle disadvantage, and to fund drug prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services. “Such a fund could also be used for local sports clubs, youth clubs, employment centres and other valuable services in our communities.
“This would help communities impacted the most by organised crime to be able to build resilience and stop the next generation of our young people becoming attracted to the criminal lifestyle. “Last year, I had the Proceeds of Crime (Investment in Disadvantaged Communities) (Amendment) Bill 2021 passed at second stage in the Oireachtas. This Bill would see the money seized by CAB reinvested into the areas most affected by crime. “I also had the Coercion of a Minor (Misuse of Drugs) (Amendment) Bill passed 1st stage this year. “This legislation is focused on the adults involved in criminality and drug dealing, who target and coerce children to move and supply drugs for them.
“If the government is serious about giving disadvantaged communities the tools to tackle organised criminals then they would allow both these pieces of legislation to proceed through the Oireachtas. “Earlier this year, the Minister announced the Community Safety Innovation Fund for some money seized by CAB for community safety initiatives. €2 million was allocated to this scheme. “While this is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough, and there is no guarantee that community groups on the front line in disadvantaged communities will receive this funding. “It does not happen by accident that most of the money seized by CAB originates from areas that are highly disadvantaged. “Disadvantaged communities are not looking for handouts, what we are looking for is for the money that originated in our communities to be returned.”