Gardaí get fleet of high-powered cars to take on gangs
A new Garda fleet of high-powered cars and motorcycles is being brought on stream in a bid to combat criminal gangs.
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has signed off on the purchase of 191 vehicles after making €4m in savings elsewhere in her department, the Irish Independent can reveal.
Many of the vehicles will be used to boost the force's 'motorway patrol unit' which targets criminal gangs suspected of using the motorway network to carry out burglaries and other crimes.
The fleet, which will come on stream in the new year, is designed to increase Garda visibility in communities.
While CSO figures have shown a fall in burglaries in 2016 nationally, rates in Dublin have jumped.
Serious concern has also been raised over gardaí downgrading crimes or crimes not being not recorded on the Garda Pulse system.
Ms Fitzgerald has managed to shore up additional cash after finding savings within her department since the Budget in October.
The investment will equip gardaí with additional high-powered vehicles, marked and unmarked patrol cars, and motorcycles.
The move by Ms Fitzgerald will be seen as response to accusations that the Government has not done enough to combat crime, most notably in rural Ireland.
A core group of up to 10 family based mobs are involved in the crime wave that has targeted vulnerable rural homes and used the country's motorways to make rapid getaways.
The gangs, who use high-powered cars that often speed away from Garda vehicles, are mostly Dublin-based, made up of criminals based in suburban areas in the south of the capital.
It is estimated that more than 300 criminals are involved.
Gardaí have also complained about vehicles being too old.
But a government source said that the latest investment was a reaction to the current age profile of the Garda vehicle fleet.
Some 38pc of the fleet is now under two years old, compared to some 5pc in 2012.
"Investment in new cars is contributing to reductions in crime and is vital to ensure the continued success key Garda operations such as Operation Thor," the source said.