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Sunday 25 August 2019

More gardaí pledged to combat gang feud amid spiralling violence in town

Conference: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is welcomed by GRA President Jim Mulligan PHOTO: DON MACMONAGLE
Conference: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is welcomed by GRA President Jim Mulligan PHOTO: DON MACMONAGLE

Ken Foy and Conor Kane

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has promised 25 extra gardaí for Drogheda as gang feuding in the town continues to spiral out of control.

It came amid mounting pressure over resourcing the town, which has seen more than 70 criminal incidents linked to the ongoing feud since last summer.

In the past week there have been seven firebomb attacks and an attempted gun murder.

The Irish Independent yesterday revealed how a new armed Garda unit for the Border region was stalled despite being expected by the end of March.

The Commissioner's announcement of extra gardaí for Drogheda came at the Garda Representative Association (GRA) conference in Killarney, Co Kerry.

Mr Harris said: "[Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan] and I have been in contact over the last months around this feud. So what I was able to inform the minister today, is that next month we will increase the establishment in Drogheda itself by a further 25 members."

Mr Harris explained the number of personnel in armed support units was being increased, with an additional 79 members to be added by the end of the year.

He also said a new unit would be established in Cavan, but rejected the GRA's demand for an armed response unit in every division, insisting they would remain deployed on a regional basis.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was "very concerned" about the situation in Drogheda.

Asked about the reported delay in providing a second armed response unit, he said there was now unprecedented investment in the gardaí "following years of under-investment because of the financial crisis".

"Obviously, where resources are allocated is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, but I have spoken to the Justice Minister specifically about Drogheda," the Taoiseach said.

"I'm very concerned about the situation there. I very much feel for the citizens there, the residents there, just going about their normal lives who obviously are now in fear and we're going to make sure the resources are in place."

However, Fianna Fáil said even more resources were required for Louth and the Border. Its justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan said: "The increased criminality, particularly from gangs targeting ATM machines, means that extra resources in the northern region are required.

"An armed support unit devoted exclusively to the Cavan/Monaghan division would greatly assist in tackling increased serious crime in the area."

Thugs

Earlier, Mr Flanagan said gardaí would have 300 new vehicles by the end of the year, as well as improved IT capabilities.

The minister also rejected assertions by rank-and-file gardaí that they are not properly resourced.

He said he was "very concerned" about the "unacceptable" feud, which he described was being led by "a small number of thugs, all of whom are known to gardaí".

He again indicated extra gardaí recruits from Templemore would be deployed to Co Louth later this year, which was then confirmed by Mr Harris.

Mr Flanagan defended the Government's record on policing, pointing out that since September 2014, almost 2,400 recruits have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, including 800 new trainees last year.

Meanwhile, members of An Garda Síochána will take part in Dublin's Pride parade in uniform for the very first time this year. In 2017, uniformed gardaí joined their PSNI colleagues in Belfast's Pride parade.

Members of the Garda Marching Band have been involved in Dublin's Pride event since 2014.

Irish Independent

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