The Tanaiste and Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell has said there is a need for tough sentences on people who are found guilty of drug offences.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, he said there was a need to ‘get real’ on sentencing and contrasted an 18-year jail sentence handed down to two Irish men found to have imported drugs into Britain with recent sentencing on drug offences here.

He said guns and drugs went together and judges could not ‘go soft’ on individuals simply because their barristers argued they were a small cog in a big machine.

Seperately, he said he was disappointed that the Catholic Hierachy had not given its opinion on the age of consent to the Dail committee, which recommended that it be lowered earlier this week.

Mr McDowell said the committee had written to the Catholic Hierachy looking for an opinion but did not get one. He said the Church of Ireland synod had responded.