Gardaí say 'give us back our machine guns' with Dublin on tenterhooks
Published 09/02/2016 | 08:05
Gardai are calling for the return of high-powered machine guns to the force after a sudden escalation in gangland violence in the capital in the last few days.
The high-powered machine gun is just one of the security measures the President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) is calling for following the gun attack at the Regency Hotel in Dublin on Friday afternoon.
David Byrne (34) was shot dead in the foyer of the northside hotel where a weigh-in for a boxing competition was taking place.
Two more men were left with injuries, while dozens of innocent families and children were forced to flee the venue.
Just three days later, Eddie Hutch Senior (59) was shot dead in his home last night in what is believed to be a retaliation attack for Friday's gun rampage.
GRA President Mr Dermot O'Brien said An Garda Síóchána is under-resourced and said he wants his members "[to be] protected when they go out there".
Speaking to RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, Mr O'Brien called for the return of high-powered machine guns and the regional support unit in the Dublin Metropolitan area.
"The RSU is a regional support unit, they are a constantly armed unit, they're around 24/7," he said.
"They are ready to respond to incidents like this.
"We are also looking for the immediate introduction of the MP7 submachine gun.
"And the return of the Uzi until the MP7 is introduced," he continued.
"That was taken away in 2012 and hasn't been replaced.
"The MP7 would be better for protection and accuracy," he added.
Mr O'Brien spoke as he said An Garda Siochána are relying on staff to do over-time following Friday's shooting at the Regency Hotel, and they shouldn't be treated the same as other groups in the public sector.
Mr O'Brien contradicted Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's comments and said the gardai do not have enough resources.
He said they are now seeking additional resources, including extra dedicated recruitment into special units to deal with organised crime.
"Nobody else in Ireland has to wear [bullet-proof vests], we have to be treated different to other public sectors," he said.
"I want to make sure my members are protected when they go out there.
"Over-time is being thrown at this investigation because we don't have enough resources.
"I keep coming back to the fact that we don't have resources," he repeated.
"We have a two-tier pay system, bringing in young gardai on €23,000, it's unfair to put these people out there."
Asked if he was disagreeing with the Justice Minister's statement that there is enough resources, Mr O'Brien said: "What I'm saying is we don't have enough people.
"If we had enough people, we would have the people there rather than be doing over-time."
The GRA President's comments come as Minister Fitzgerald is set to meet the Garda Commissioner and senior officers today to discuss the sudden escalation in violence in Dublin following two murders within the past three days.
The Taoiseach has said the murder of Eddie Hutch Snr is a "new escalation of the crime gangland war in Dublin."
Mr Kenny was addressing supporters at a Fine Gael campaign event in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.
"As we speak the Minister for Justice is meeting wit the Garda Commissioner," he told them.
"There has been a new escalation in the crime gangland war in Dublin with the shooting dead of another person yesterday evening.
"I want you to understand I've advised the Minister for Justice that she can say to the Commissioner of the Gardaí that we will support the Gardaí... 100pc in their efforts to deal with this."
Mr Kenny continued: "We will see that the resources that are necessary for emergency response units and the facilities to do their job will be supplied to the Gardai and the force in Dublin and elsewhere around the country.
"This is not a situation we can tolerate where innocent people may be caught... in the way of gangland crime.
"While this has dropped in numbers... in the last number of years - one is too many."
Gardai continue to carry out armed checkpoints in the city after Eddie Hutch Senior was gunned down in his home last night.
The father-of-five was killed after a gang of gunmen burst into the property on Poplar Row.
The 59-year-old man is understood to have been shot nine times in the attack.
Eddie Hutch Snr was not centrally involved in any of the feuding and was seen as a “soft target.”
His murder has sickened investigators.
A photograph on Independent.ie today shows the front door of the family home which was smashed in during the attack.
The image shows how the glass on the front door, which is on the ground floor of the property, was smashed in before a number of gunmen entered the property.
Gardai continue to stand outside the crime scene, which remains taped off.
The north inner city remains on tenterhooks this morning, with several locals saying they fear for their safety after two major gun attacks in the past few days.
Meanwhile, gangster ‘Fat" Freddie Thompson was arrested by gardai after a high speed chase in central Dublin last night.
Officers chased Thompson for several miles from the Crumlin area into the south inner city.
Gardai eventually forced the car to stop at Cork Street where the driver fled.
Thompson, a well known criminal boss, was found to be in the passenger seat.
He was arrested by detectives under drugs legislation and was searched. Officers were also suspicious over the clothes he was wearing.
The criminal figure was in a red Audi which had been spotted leaving the home of another major criminal figure.
The high speed chase then ensued at around 9.00pm.
Gardai across the city are on a heightened state of alert following two murders in recent days and detectives in the south Dublin division have initiated a major clampdown.
The division had been the epicentre of the Crumlin/Drimnagh feud which claimed 14 lives and where a gang linked to Thompson was seen as one of the major protagonists.
He is now aligned with the Kinahan cartel based in Marbella, Spain which is involved in a vendetta feud with the Hutch gang based in the north inner city.
The Hutch/Kinahan feud has led to two murders in the last five days – the Regency Hotel shootings and last night the cold blooded murder of Eddie Hutch senior.
Meanwhile, following questioning and a search "Fat" Freddie Thompson was released from garda custody last night pending further inquiries.
Officers are hopeful his arrest may lead to charges in due course.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach said: "The Taoiseach and the minister for justice have been in ongoing regular contact on these issues.
"As previously stated, they are of one mind that no resources will be spared in the hunt for the perpetrators of these appalling acts.
"The Minister for Justice will continue to update on further developments on these matters."
Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland today, Micheal Martin said the numbers of gardai currently employed needs to be reviewed.
"We need an accelerated recruitment drive in Garda Siochana."
He challenged the outgoing Government's performance on crime saying: "There is absolutely no doubt that the Government have dropped the ball in terms of crime."
Dublin City Councillor and former Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke said it was "the darkest night" he can remember.
"My grandchildren are in the area, and young kids, and when they heard from their friends there had been a shooting, they cried," he told RTE Radio One's Sean O'Rourke Show.
"This area would normally have plenty of children out playing, only for the dark and wet night that was in it there would have been children out playing.
"Both these families are mourning both of these men; sons, daughters, mothers and fathers are suffering.
"Both men deserve to be buried with dignity."
Councillor Burke suggested a mediation between the two gangs to try and resolve the ongoing feud.
"Maybe the archbishop might act as a mediator," he continued.
"He could meet with representatives of both sides and try and assist in stopping the taking of further lives and any further misery."
Meanwhile, Independent candidate Maureen O'Sullivan TD was canvassing in the area when she heard of the shooting yesterday evening.
"The media will call this a gangland killing, but this is happening in an ordinary community with ordinary families, young people and elderly people," she said.
She described the recent killings as 'ruthless' and said there is a 'complete disregard for life'.