Thursday 22 August 2019

Gardaí blame recession for failure to stop Regency Hotel attack that sparked gang war

Haul: The Garda Armed Support Unit with some weapons that were seized by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. Photo: Frank McGrath
Haul: The Garda Armed Support Unit with some weapons that were seized by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. Photo: Frank McGrath
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

An Garda Síochána has admitted that it was unprepared for the Regency Hotel gangland attack in 2016, blaming the recession as a factor for its incompetence.

The Dublin-based hotel was the scene of the infamous shooting of Kinahan cartel associate David Byrne at a boxing weigh-in.

Speaking at a media briefing about the force's "unrelenting approach" in tackling organised crime, Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll, Special Crime Operations (SCO), said the recession was a factor in why gardaí were unprepared to prevent the attack.

"We were presented with a very serious scenario and where it was suggested An Garda Síochána may not have been prepared," he said.

"Coming out of a recession, there probably was some truth in that. Since that date, we had a consistent and unrelenting approach [to organised crime].

"This involved the gathering of intelligence and targeting of particular organised groups, and maximising the resources of An Garda Síochána," he said.

The assistant commissioner added that gardaí have saved a total of 64 lives from hitmen since the Regency shooting in February 2016.

"The number of murders in this jurisdiction up to the end of June have reduced by 25pc compared to last year," he said.

"Sixty-four interventions were made since February 2016, and we prevented very imminent threats to 64 lives."

During the briefing at the Special Crime Operations in Harcourt Square, Dublin, it was revealed that between March 2015 and July 2019, €158m worth of illicit drugs were seized by gardaí.

The operations involved 651 arrests, the seizure of 101 firearms, 3,300 rounds of ammunition and €9.8m in cash.

This year alone has seen the seizure of €11.4m worth of drugs and 133 arrests made by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

From January to July, €1.5m in cash has also been seized, including 10 firearms and 300 rounds of ammunition.

The assistant commissioner was speaking a number of hours after a three-man "hit-for-hire team" received sentences totalling 36 and a half years at the Special Criminal Court for planning to kill a member of the Hutch family before they were intercepted by gardaí.

He said that while crime is unrelenting, the public can be assured the aim of the Garda is to dismantle the gangs.

"We don't know when our campaign in dealing with tackling organised crime will come to an end or if it ever will. But we can assure people that we will be unrelenting and pursue all that engage in organised crime," he said.

The murder of Byrne in the Regency Hotel attack sparked the feud violence which has claimed 16 lives.

Irish Independent

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