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'Drug offenders should go to prison'

MANDATORY prison sentences in special prisons may need to be considered for drug offenders as conventional methods of tackling the drugs problem in Ireland are not working, a judge has said.

Judge Anthony Halpin said: "It is coming to the stage where there will have to be mandatory sentencing, even for minor drugs offences, and special prisons for drugs offenders".

The judge was speaking as he ordered Paul Mason (25) to complete 140 hours community service in lieu of three months in prison and an eight-month sentence suspended for two years.

Mason, a talented boxer, was caught selling heroin to undercover gardai following a crackdown on street dealers in the Tallaght area.