Wednesday 28 September 2016

Martin attacks FG for 'talking tough but acting soft' on crime

Barry Lennon

Published 11/02/2016 | 02:30

Micheál Martin addressing the IFA executive council at the Irish Farm Centre in Dublin yesterday Photo: Mark Condren
Micheál Martin addressing the IFA executive council at the Irish Farm Centre in Dublin yesterday Photo: Mark Condren

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said Fine Gael "talks tough but acts soft" in its approach to crime.

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Mr Martin also criticised outgoing Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald as "weak" as he outlined his party's policies on crime yesterday.

After the Regency Hotel shootings on Friday and the retaliation murder of Eddie Hutch Snr on Monday, Mr Martin criticised the Government's response, saying it should have been much "stronger" following the killings.

And Fianna Fáil suggested Ms Fitzgerald's €5m armed unit to tackle gangland crime in Dublin could take gardaí from other units.

Instead the party promised voters that it would set up a Dublin city centre public order unit to combat drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour.

The unit would also have its own dedicated management structure and systems support unit, which would work closely with Interpol.

As part of other proposals, the party promised to increase Garda numbers to 15,000 while also doubling the size of the Garda Reserve to 2,500.

Scandal

The last time it was in government, Fianna Fáil was responsible for introducing a ban on Garda recruitment under then Justice Minister Dermot Ahern as part of austerity measures.

When Fine Gael and Labour entered government in 2011, they continued the ban until its eventual removal at the end of 2014.

Yesterday, Mr Martin criticised the outgoing Government's plans to continue the recruitment ban, calling it a "scandal," and claimed his party had a "credible track record" on the issue.

However, responding to Mr Martin's criticisms last night, Fine Gael's Simon Harris called Fianna Fáil "the party of disorder" and said that party had shut down the Garda College in Templemore.

Fianna Fáil outlined other plans to combat serious crime, which include setting up a second Special Criminal Court to deal with a massive backlog of cases.

Mr Martin described the court, which has been in the news this week after Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he wanted it abolished, as "indispensable to rid our society of what is organised criminal terror".

The party also pledged to recruit 200 more community gardaí. It promised tougher sentences for repeat burglars and mandatory sentences for attacks on older people.

It did not commit to reopen shut Garda stations.

However, it said that if in Government it will carry out a review of station districts to decide whether or not shut stations should be reopened.

Irish Independent

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