LIMERICK'S garda chief has warned that the city's criminal gangs are still operating despite the jailing of more than 60 gang members.
Chief Supt Dave Sheahan said while the activities of the feuding gangs have been curtailed – gardai will not be getting complacent.
There has been just one murder in the Limerick garda division this year – which was not not gang-related – and shooting incidents have dropped from a figure of 103 discharges of firearms in 2007 to a mere seven for this year.
Five years ago, Limerick accounted for a third of all shooting incidents in the country, but the imprisonment of numerous members of the McCarthy-Dundon and Keane-Collopy gangs has had a major impact.
In 2008, shooting incidents dropped dramatically to 44 and, in 2009, there were 30 reported shootings. In 2010 there were 20 incidents, with 14 last year.
"The fact of the matter is that a lot of these gang leaders are currently before the courts or else they are serving long sentences, which is having a huge impact as well," Chief Supt Sheahan said.
"It is a remarkable reduction in respect of that (illegal discharge of firearms)."
However, Chief Supt Sheahan said the Limerick gangs still represent an active and real threat.
"I would never become complacent to say that they are not there.
"They are still there and they are still operating," he said.
"The level at which they are operating has been certainly curtailed significantly," Chief Supt Sheahan said.
"My vision and aim going forward is that we will reduce that even further if we can.
"My wish is that the longer those people are in (jail), the communities themselves will respond by saying, 'enough is enough, we have had this for long enough and now we want a peaceful community that we have had in Limerick for the past 12 months'."
He said the drop in murders in Limerick was a very welcome change.
"It is one that we have worked hard on in respect of the gangland crime.
"The approach we have taken is one that very much deals with the issues as they arise and to try and tackle it in an intelligence-led manner as to the way these people operate.
"One murder in Limerick this year is one too many but, at the same time, it is a lot less than it has been for the past number of years," Chief Supt Sheahan added.