Handguns are weapon of choice in gang murders
Handguns were used in 19 gangland murders last year, new figures show.
Garda statistics reveal there were 54 murders committed in 2010, a drop of two on the previous year.
A shotgun was the chosen weapon in four of the fatalities, while there were 15 stabbings with knives, and one with a garden shears, which resulted in the death of troubled west Dublin youth, Daniel McAnaspie.
The detection rate for the gangland murders committed in 2009 was 29pc at the end of the year but has since increased to 41pc, while the corresponding rate for last year is currently 26pc.
The overall murder detection rate for 2010 is 67pc, compared with 68pc the previous year.
The figures were disclosed as it emerged that senior gardai leading the fight against serious crime are to focus more on intelligence-led and targeted operations in the coming year after a special gangland budget was more than halved.
The new strategies have been drawn up in the wake of a reduction in government funding, which meant that the budget for Operation Anvil, the nationwide drive against organised crime, was slashed from €21m in 2010 to €10m this year.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has pledged that specific policing operations targeting major gangland figures would not be affected by cuts.
Anvil has had considerable success, since it was set up, in countering the gangs through the seizure of weapons, drugs and stolen goods, largely through random checkpoints.
It is understood that a review of those tactics by senior management resulted in a decision to focus more on targeted operations.
Funding will be set aside for any specialist unit planning a targeted operation, he promised.
In his first media interview since taking up the post late last month, Mr Callinan said his main priorities were on intensifying the drive against the big crime gangs, thwarting the terror campaigns planned by dissident groups and concentrating on high-volume crime, such as burglaries, thefts and robberies.
The commissioner is to meet with the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott within the next fortnight on combating the threat posed by dissident groups such as the self-styled Oglaigh na hEireann, the Real IRA and Continuity IRA.
He said both forces were concerned at the frequency and range of attacks by subversives in the North -- up by more than 70pc in 2010 on the previous year -- and gardai worked closely with the PSNI and the security services to put the groups "out of business".
He added: "It's true we have had considerable successes and would hope to build on those because they thwart that type of activity. But the converse is also true that where people are successful in in carrying out these attacks, it gives the dissident groups a lift.
"In this jurisdiction, we will not be found wanting in putting whatever resources we need into dealing with that threat."
Mr Callinan said another major aim was to make more people feel safe within their communities.