Monday 26 September 2016

If gardaí are to tackle these murder gangs, they need the resources to do so

Published 06/07/2016 | 02:30

The new organised crime task force, which will include a beefing-up of the Criminal Assets Bureau, is expected to be in place by Monday week (Stock picture)
The new organised crime task force, which will include a beefing-up of the Criminal Assets Bureau, is expected to be in place by Monday week (Stock picture)

Two daylight street shootings in the past five days have highlighted the urgent need for the full implementation of the package of measures to tackle organised crime, which had been promised by the Government and the Garda authorities.

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Daithí Douglas was shot dead last Friday in the south inner city with a Star pistol, a weapon that had not been used in the Kinahan-Hutch feud.

So it was thought more likely that his death was due to a dispute that also resulted in an attempt on his life late last year.

Meanwhile, the victim of yesterday's shooting, Christopher Maguire, had been associating with criminals who were regarded by gardaí as being on the periphery of the Kinahan drugs cartel.

Gardaí said that initially at least they would keep an open mind on any feud link to yesterday's shooting.

But it makes little difference to the families of the victims or the shocked communities where the gun crimes took place.

What the public is demanding now is action to ensure that the hands of the gardaí are strengthened in order to allow them to tackle the gangs with all available force.

Some elements of the plan are making progress.

The new organised crime task force, which will include a beefing-up of the Criminal Assets Bureau, is expected to be in place by Monday week.

Members of the task force have already been selected and are being prepared for their new roles. However, there has been unease among senior officers in the capital, who have lost personnel to the new unit without any replacements, while Garda representative bodies are complaining that the members should have been appointed through interviews, not selected.

The latter method was chosen because of the need to set up the unit quickly.

The new armed support unit for Dublin should be up and running before the end of the year. Its members will undergo a 13-week training course to upgrade their firearms and driving skills.

But a vital element, which has not yet been approved by the Government, is the filling of key appointments in the higher ranks.

Last week, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan warned the Policing Authority that major gaps in the senior supervisory ranks posed significant risks to its leadership capacity and to robust management structures.

The creation of the new units, as well as the side-tracking of so many officers to deal with the mountain of recommendations from reports, has put an extra burden on an already over-stretched force.

The Government must now respond more urgently to the Commissioner's request, if the promised package is not to be compromised.

Irish Independent

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