'Gardaí don't need new anti-gang laws, they need boots on ground'
Published 15/06/2016 | 02:30
Ireland already has "incredibly strong" anti-gang laws which could be used to dismantle the Kinahan and Hutch gangs, according to a leading barrister and drug crime expert.
Senior counsel Garnet Orange said that current anti-gang laws were even stronger than those used to prosecute terrorism offences, but they had been used extremely rarely by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
To date, only three people have been convicted under anti-gang legislation which was introduced in 2006 and 2007 at the height of the Limerick gang feud.
"The guards don't need new powers, they don't need new laws. They need resources, they need boots on the ground," Mr Orange told the Irish Independent.
The 2006 and 2007 legislation introduced the offences of directing, assisting and participating in a criminal organisation. It also allows prosecutors to use a wide variety of tactics which would otherwise be forbidden, including permitting a garda of any rank to give opinion evidence of whether they believe someone is in a criminal organisation.
In contrast, Mr Orange said, anti-terrorism legislation only allows opinion evidence from a garda with the rank of superintendent or higher.
"It allows you to present evidence from an ordinary guard, which would otherwise be regarded as hearsay," he said.
"He can say 'yes, I'm constantly seeing these people together, they're constantly seen driving together and I know he's got a house in Marbella even though he's drawing social welfare'."