New armed garda squad to take on city gang bosses
FOR the first time in the history of the State a city is to get its own fully armed garda unit to target lethal criminals and gangland violence.
Limerick is to be serviced by a specialised and dedicated armed unit which will be styled on the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and will be specifically designed to stop the bloodshed between the city's feuding gangs.
It is expected that the special unit will be patrolling some of the city's flashpoint suburbs within a month.
Fine Gael councillor and Chairman of the Limerick City Council's Joint Policing Committee, Kevin Kiely, said the new unit will be a major asset to tackling organised crime in the city. "I am absolutely delighted with this development," said Mr Kiely. "The new unit will have a permanent base in Limerick and will be similar to the very successful ERU which services the whole of the country," he continued.
Mr Kiely confirmed that the unit was proposed by the chief executive of the city's Regeneration Agencies, Brendan Kenny, after the idea was mooted locally. Mr Kenny recently began the unenviable task of transforming the suburbs of Moyross and Southill which have been plagued by gangland violence and drug dealers.
"Brendan Kenny and Chief Superintendent Willie Keane have played major roles in ensuring this unit is being set up and I congratulate them," said Mr Kiely.
It is expected there will be at least 16 specially trained detectives in the armed unit. Members of the unit have received specialist training at overseas centres in the US and Britain. Some have participated in a 16-day tactical and firearms training course at the camp of the FBI hostage rescue team in Quantico, Virginia.
Mr Kiely said: "They will be used to dealing with hardened criminals and will be targeting drug dealers and crime bosses along with those involved in the feuds."
The armed unit will patrol Limerick streets 24-hours a day and will be based on the ERU, which is under the umbrella of the Special Detective Unit.
The ERU was first drafted into Limerick in 2003 after the gangland murder of Kieran Keane. Limerick's feud has claimed eight lives while another three people are also suspected of having been murdered as a result of criminal tensions since 2000.
Armed gardai have patrolled potential flashpoint areas since the feud erupted in bloodshed 12 months ago.