82. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider introducing or supporting legislation to ensure that proof of identity is required for the purchase of mobile phones (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17091/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy may be aware, proposals to register all customers of mobile phone services were considered in the mid-2000s by what is now the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment which concluded that such a proposal would be unlikely to solve the illegal and inappropriate use of mobile phones by persons determined to use the technology for illegal activity.
They also concluded that there is a risk that such measures could lead to the emergence of a black market for fraudulently registered or stolen SIM cards. Furthermore, there would be significant data protection issues associated with such a proposal. In light of these findings, I understand that there are no plans under consideration at present to make it mandatory for persons to need to register for mobile phone services.
With respect to the harm caused by drug related crime more generally, this is something that is of great concern to me and every effort is being made to tackle this issue. An Garda Síochána play a key role in ensuring that individuals who threaten the welfare and well-being of the communities they serve are brought to justice. All Gardaí have a responsibility in the detection and prevention of crime, whether it be drug related crime or otherwise. Tackling drugs and organised crime remains a core focus of An Garda Síochána.
The Government is committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána have sufficient resources to carry out their important work and, as such, funding in this area has been very significant in recent years, in particular through the accelerated programme of Garda recruitment. This will enable An Garda Síochána to enhance policing services in communities nationwide. Investment is this area has resulted in additional personnel being assigned to the Specialist Bureaus that come within the ambit of Special Crime Operations, including the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
I would like to assure the Deputy that my Department and the Government is fully committed to supporting An Garda Síochána in their efforts to tackle all forms of criminal activity, with a particular focus on the safety of our citizens.