Gang crime leads to 30pc rise in murders and manslaughter
GANGLAND violence was a significant factor in pushing up the murder and manslaughter toll by a third in the past year.
The number of fatalities jumped from 45 to 60 after a particularly bloody couple of months towards the end of 2012.
Among the victims were Real IRA faction leader Alan Ryan and criminal godfather Eamon Kelly, both in Dublin, and three men shot dead in a four-day gangland spree – Gerard Eglington, in Portarlington, Co Laois; Declan O'Reilly, in south-inner Dublin; and John Wilson, at Cherry Orchard, Dublin.
Overall, crime fell by 5.5pc in the year, with reductions in 10 of the 14 categories.
Apart from homicides, increases were also recorded for sexual offences, fraud and deception, and burglary although the number of burglaries began to drop in the final quarter.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter paid tribute to gardai for the many successes they had achieved last year and welcomed the overall reduction.
But in a reference to his ongoing row with the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, he "urged" its members to be proud of their achievements.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan welcomed the impact that targeted operations had made on the figures.
He also praised his officers for seizing drugs worth an estimated €100m during the year and said they could never over-emphasise the importance of the partnership between the gardai and and the community.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed recorded crime had plummeted from 258,161 offences to 243,896.
Mr Shatter singled out the introduction last March of Operation Fiacla to tackle the rise in burglary, with the arrest of 4,226 suspects; while 2,327 had been charged in the courts.
The figures also revealed that sexual offences were up by 2pc from 2,014 to 2,059, with a 6pc rise in recorded rapes.
Assaults causing harm fell by 11pc, while harassment and related offences dropped by more than 10pc.
Dangerous or negligent acts dropped by 10pc, while kidnapping decreased by 10pc from 109 to 98 offences.
Robberies overall dropped but there was an increase in the robbery of cash or goods in transit from 39 to 49 incidents.
Burglaries showed a slight increase of 0.3pc but aggravated burglaries, where violence is used, were down by 15.8pc.
Reflecting the garda activities in Fiacla, offences of possession of an item with intent to burgle, steal or demand, increased by 18.3pc to 751.
Between 2004 and 2012 the overall number of categories increased from 24,913 to 27,774.
Theft from the person increased by 37pc but there was a drop of 20pc in the theft of vehicles and related offences.
The overall number in this category has remained stable since 2008.
Fraud and deception offences were up by 3pc, the figures showed, while drug offences decreased by 7pc.
Weapons and explosives offences were down by over 13pc and public order offences fell by over 10pc.
Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins said the disturbing increase in violent crime further emphasised the need to protect community garda resources and support frontline members of the force.
He told Mr Shatter he had already lost the confidence of members of the gardai and unless he radically altered his approach, he risked turning a row into a full-scale crisis.