Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has said the number of headshops operating in the country now stands at 44.

Mr Ahern revealed the figure in the Dáil this morning, as deputies began to debate legislation targeting products sold in such outlets.

The Bill ensures that the sale or supply of unregulated psychoactive substances for human consumption will be a criminal offence.

Mr Ahern said the Criminal Justice Psychoactive Bill is robust, urgent and part of a multi-pronged approach in tackling headshops.

He said that there had been 102 headshops in the country but that dropped to 36 shortly after a Government order last May. The number has now risen to 44.