The illegal and vast proceeds of criminal enterprises are about to come under the spotlight of the Dáil with a Fine Gael TD’s proposal that the cash be redistributed to prevent teens and children becoming involved in crime.
Deputy Neale Richmond has submitted a Private Members Motion to the Oireachtas that would see the Government legislate to ring-fence funds seized by state agencies and channel these funds back into targeting the causes of crime at source.
If given the green light by the country’s politicians, the bold move could prove to be a severe dent to some of the country’s major criminal gangs who regularly target and recruit minors to carry out their nefarious acts.
Deputy Richmond said: “Cash seized by the Gardai is on the rise, from €7.44 million in 2019 to over €16 million in 2020. In 2021 over €2 million was seized in the first month alone.
“I have submitted a Private Members Motion that would see this seized cash ringfenced and channelled into community-focused programmes to address the societal causes of crime.
“The Gardai and the Criminal Assets Bureau do stellar work in ensuring that crime does not pay by seizing the proceeds of crime.
“However, instead of this cash returning to the exchequer for general spending as is current Government policy, they should be put to good use to support communities and prevent young people from turning to crime in the first instance.
“It would be brilliant to see this crime cash used for addiction counsellors, social workers, youth diversion programmes, training courses, education schemes, awareness programmes and more.”
Deputy Richmond continued: “This approach is already working in countries like France and New Zealand; it can work here too.
“By ring-fencing seized cash we are not only reaffirming our commitment to supporting communities and families who have been devastated by crime, but also protecting generations to come from turning to crime in the first instance.
“I have been working on this issue with my colleague, Councillor Kenneth Egan, who, thorough his work locally knows first-hand the value of community-focussed services and the impact they have on the lives of young people.
“This is an opportunity to take the proceeds of crime and put this cash to work to prevent future crimes from taking place.
“I know Minister McEntee shares my concerns and is engaging with government colleagues on this issue. I hope to speak to her about it in the coming days.”