Laws championed by this newspaper prompt fall in gangland murders
Anti-gangland measures championed by the Sunday Independent -- which stirred opposition when introduced three years ago -- are beginning to have a major impact on organised crime after the first convictions took place, detectives have said.
Sources say the first significant convictions based on new gang "membership" and "direction" charges introduced in 2009 are having an effect.
Although there has been no significant let-up in spur-of-the-minute violence including shootings, detectives say there appears to be a marked decline in the "professional" gangland murders that have marked the past two decades.
There have been no organised "hits" in the Republic since March -- coincident with the publicity surrounding the first of the two big anti-gang trials. These cases included that of Limerick brothers, John, 29, and Wayne Dundon, 34, who were jailed in April after being found guilty of threatening to kill April Collins at her home last year.
The hearing of cases before the three-judge Special Criminal Court in non-terrorist cases was one of the measures introduced by the Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrat coalition in the face of opposition from members of the legal profession, academics, rights groups and others in 2009.
In 2009 -- the worst on record -- there were 28 murders by crime gangs. This year, so far, there have been eight gang killings, the last in March.