Saturday 3 December 2016

Fitzgerald faces questions over use of €5m fund to tackle organised crime

Published 27/04/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins has called on Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to say how much of the €5m committed to tackling organised crime last February has actually been drawn down by gardaí and where has it been spent. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins has called on Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to say how much of the €5m committed to tackling organised crime last February has actually been drawn down by gardaí and where has it been spent. Photo: Tom Burke

Gardaí must urgently be given more resources to hold back the wave of gangland crime sweeping the city, politicians have said.

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Fianna Fáil's Niall Collins condemned the murders of Michael Barr (35) and Thomas Farnan (38) but questioned what had happened to the €5m committed to tackle organised crime last February.

He said Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald must say how much of that money has actually been drawn down by gardaí and where has it been spent.

"Since then we have seen more violent killings as the war between feuding gangs escalates. This raises serious questions about the resources promised by Minister Fitzgerald," he said.

"Fianna Fáil has consistently raised concerns about garda numbers and resources. The force has been seriously depleted and starved of funding needed to ensure that it can effectively target criminal activity."

Mr Collins called for a new Serious and Organised Crime Unit to be established to fight criminal networks.

"We can't allow this gangland feud to spiral further. Efforts to defeat it must be intensified," he said.

A spokesman for the Justice Minister told the Irish Independent the murders were "shocking acts of violence" and that she shares "the widespread revulsion at such heinous crimes".

"The minister utterly condemns all such acts of violence, and reaffirms her determination to support An Garda Síochána in pursuing those responsible.

"The minister remains committed to providing the necessary legislative and financial resources to enable An Garda Síochána to oppose violent criminals and she remains in close contact with the Garda Commissioner in this regard," he said.

Independent TD Finian McGrath complained that no Dáil time was set aside to debate the murders.

"Two people were gunned down on their streets in gangland murders. One happened in the Sunset House pub on the north side of Dublin, which many of us know from going to Croke Park over many years. The other murder took place in Clondalkin," he told the Dáil.

"This is a major issue that should also be debated. It is a very important issue. Action should be taken by the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice with people being gunned down in pubs and houses. This is not acceptable."

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald, who represents the Dublin Central constituency where Mr Barr was targeted, described his murder as a "brazen killing".

"The reaction on the ground is one of upset, distress and anger. There is also a feeling of vulnerability," she said.

Ms McDonald said those involved in the shooting "know no fear and they seem to believe in their own invincibility".

"In the inner city, on both sides of the River Liffey, we are down substantially in garda numbers, by 100 officers. It is only a matter of time before another innocent person is injured or worse," she said.

Irish Independent

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