New Garda Commissioner vows to target dissidents
The new Garda Commissioner today vowed to target dissident terror groups and organised crime gangs despite cuts to the policing budget and officer numbers.
Martin Callinan revealed national and international security, crime, traffic and engaging with the community were key priorities since he took over as head of An Garda Siochana in December.
The Commissioner said that despite budget cuts, and Garda numbers to be slashed by up to 1,500, the quality of intelligence will not be compromised.
There are an estimated 150 dissidents in the Republic, with another 350 in Northern Ireland.
"My aim is to thwart their activities and arrest and seize as much as I possibly can in terms of disrupting these people," he said.
Mr Callinan recently meet with PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and they agreed to combat the threat posed by dissident groups such as the Real IRA, Continuity IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann.
He said that, traditionally, dissidents in the Republic have given logistical support for active service units in Northern Ireland.
"We're monitoring very, very closely key people within each of these groupings," the Commissioner continued.
"All of the successes we have had, particularly in the last 18 months, have been intelligence-led policing and that will be my focus for the foreseeable future because you are dealing with secret, oath-bound societies.
"You will not be effective in dealing with those people using ordinary conventional methods, such as high-visibility patrols."
Garda numbers are expected to be cut from 14,400 to about 13,000 over the next three to four years.
While there has been a series of arrests and arms seizures away from the border counties, recently in Kildare, Galway and the south east, Commissioner Callinan does not believe significant numbers are joining the organisations.
Instead, he said new faces among dissident groups are often drafted in for a planned activity to steal a car or for their engineering or technical ability.
"We are watching it very, very carefully and working extremely closely with our colleagues in Northern Ireland and the British security service," he added.
"The interaction with these people is governed by what we see from time to time, trends, and we tend to focus on things that we see developing in terms of disrupting the dislodging.
"Our people here in crime and security in garda headquarters are in daily contact, and sometimes hourly contact, with our colleagues the far side of the border, and maybe several times in the one hour.
"I will put whatever resources are necessary, human or financial, into thwarting the activates of the dissidents."