CUTBACKS to garda forces will prove counterproductive at a time when 25 organised crime gangs – some with women at the helm – are operating in the State, it has been claimed.
The warning came as it emerged that the last gangland murder victim of 2012 – Christopher 'Git' Warren (below) – was gunned down after he crossed a south Dublin inner city gang with women at the head of the day-to-day work of running its drug business.
Prolific burglar Warren (35), from St Teresa's Gardens, Dublin, is alleged to have struck a woman in a row that apparently erupted over drugs. A punishment attack was ordered but the burglar ended up being shot on December 28, and later died in hospital.
A number of women behind the scenes have been keeping the south Dublin inner city gang – which earned massive money dealing in cocaine during the Celtic Tiger years – in operation. Some of its key male figureheads have been killed in recent years while others have moved to Spain.
Fianna Fail's justice spokesman Niall Collins said there had been an increase in gangland-related murders in the past six months since the death of Alan Ryan.
Mr Collins said a depletion of garda forces at such a time would be a "bad move" and would result in a further "experience drain" from the force.
Garda numbers are expected to be cut by 1,000 this year through career breaks and retirements due to a serious budget shortfall. The force stands at 13,417 but the amount in the coffers of the Department of Justice for the payroll only covers 12,500.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has revealed there are 25 gangs controlling Ireland's criminal underworld, one-fifth with international links spreading into Holland, Spain, the UK and Russia for the illicit cigarette trade.
Speaking at an Oireachtas committee on justice late last year, Mr Callinan said the majority of gangs concentrated on drug trafficking.
Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan said that it was important the garda force "do more with less". However, he said the variety of gangs targeting various illicit trades must be the "focus of garda attention".