Tuesday 23 October 2018

Gardaí slam cutbacks to armed support units after latest gangland murder

A burnt out car at Station Road Business Park after the shooting at Bridgeview halting site. Photo: Mark Condren
A burnt out car at Station Road Business Park after the shooting at Bridgeview halting site. Photo: Mark Condren

Conor Feehan and Ken Foy

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has criticised recent cutbacks to armed Garda support in Dublin in the aftermath of the latest gangland murder, insisting that "gang chaos reigns".

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has criticised recent cutbacks to armed Garda support in Dublin in the aftermath of the latest gangland murder, insisting that "gang chaos reigns".

Speaking following the weekend murder of Derek Coakley-Hutch, GRA spokesman John O'Keeffe said it showed the Hutch and Kinahan gangs "have not gone away".

Coakley-Hutch (27) was shot a number of times in the head and body as he sat in a car at the Bridgeview halting site near Wheatfield Prison just before 3pm on Saturday.

Senior investigators say Coakley-Hutch drove to the halting site with two associates to throw a parcel of drugs over the prison wall.

While he stayed with the car, his associates made their way to the back of the site which backs onto the prison.

They then made contact with prison inmate Nathan Hutch (24), a brother of Coakley-Hutch, by phone to inform him the drop was taking place.

Nathan Hutch is believed to have an illegally held phone in the prison and heard the fatal shots being fired.

The killing of Coakley-Hutch brings the number of murders carried out as part of the Hutch-Kinahan feud since 2015 to 14.

The decision of Garda management to cut the overtime of armed anti-gangland units in recent weeks was heavily criticised in Garda circles.

"The ASU (armed support unit) overtime was cut, which was a ridiculous decision given that this feud is still very active," said one Garda source.

Last night Mr O'Keeffe said: "As the GRA has advised during January, cuts to numbers of armed patrols in Dublin is a very serious matter for those who want our capital free of the murderous drug gangs who have brought such misery on their communities and beyond.

"They are a clear and present danger to everyone who comes into their path, as are other equally pathological spin-off crime gangs in the capital."

He said that the men and women of the ASUs, along with the Special Detective Unit and frontline uniformed gardaí, "have been keeping drug gangs' murderous activities at bay over the last year, with notable success".

But he said that without the necessary armed Garda resources to meet the gangland threat, uniformed and unarmed gardaí may be particularly vulnerable.

"Having a full complement and beyond of armed units patrolling the capital is no longer a choice, it is a necessity," he said.

"The Government must now immediately provide whatever supplementary budget is need to ensure further killings are prevented. If they do not, we can only expect more carnage on our streets."

Mr O'Keeffe was speaking following a tweet by the GRA in which it warned that "armed cover must be increased now before more lives are lost".

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan branded the latest gangland killing as "contempt for law and order" and said that the perpetrators would be "tracked down".

He appealed for anyone who had information to contact gardaí.

Irish Independent

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