Armed gardai swamp Dublin's streets to stop gangland 'hits'
ARMED gardai from the Emergency Response Unit are back on the streets of Dublin in a fresh drive to combat the gangland killers.
Saturation patrolling in the north inner city and west Dublin is one of a series of measures put into action after a review of current tactics aimed at tackling the gangs.
The move was disclosed yesterday by Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, who said he had called a crime summit attended by his key advisers in the wake of four shootings in the capital in the past month.
The patrols will be backed up by increased covert surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations.
Good progress has been made in the recent murder inquiries, according to the Commissioner. Mr Murphy said the jails were full and the criminal courts had never been busier as a result of gardai performing their duties.
"But, despite that, there is a small core of ruthless criminals who are intent on eliminating their rivals because of their links to the illicit drugs trade -- or for reasons of revenge or some small motives", he said.
The Commissioner pointed out that the new anti-gangland legislation was now a significant weapon in the armoury of An Garda Siochana, which was focusing in particular on 15 gangs nationwide.
Their work so far has resulted in a dozen files being sent to the DPP and two of those have led to prosecutions. Others are still being processed and gardai are currently preparing other files for the DPP.
Mr Murphy pointed out that providing protection for witnesses in criminal trials was putting a huge drain on resources, particularly in Dublin and Limerick.
But his force was committed to ensuring that anyone prepared to give evidence could do so without facing intimidation or living in fear.
A lot of resources were also deployed in gathering the intelligence needed to put the criminals behind bars.
"This is a significant challenge for us but we are committed to meeting it," he pledged at the Garda College in Templemore where 263 recruits, including 112 women, graduated yesterday.
He told the graduates: "It is essential that the community remains at the heart of everything we do as they are our greatest ally in preventing and detecting crime and protecting the safety of the people."
He also said he could not stress enough the importance of keeping the victims of crime updated on the status of investigations at all times. He urged the new gardai to keep that in mind and to be accessible to crime victims.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern paid tribute to the work of the gardai in providing so many files for the DPP since the legislation was introduced a year ago. He said it was envisaged that a number of the recommended prosecutions from the DPP would end up being heard in the non-jury Special Criminal Court.
This had been included in the legislation to ensure that cases could not collapse through intimidation of witnesses.
Mr Ahern expected that the provisions of the legislation would be used regularly in the future because of the threat from gangland crime.
Mr Murphy dismissed suggestions that his force would have to hire vehicles to carry out their duties. He acknowledged that in a small number of specific cases lorries had been hired for special tasks but overall he would not go down that road.
The force had up to 2,800 vehicles available at present and a tender competition was in train to provide more vehicles in the future, he added.