Gardaí unveil new elite unit preparing to wage war on gangland crime
Noirín O'Sullivan was speaking at the launch of the new Armed Support Unit
This is the new garda unit that will tackle gangland crime in Dublin.
The Armed Support Unit (ASU) has 55 members, who completed a 12-week training programme, and will provide high visibility patrolling and response while the Emergency Response Unit will concentrate on covert and high risk firearms interventions against both organised crime and terrorist groups.
Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan said the ASU would give the force a new dynamic in the area of armed response but it also less than lethal weapons such as Tasers and pepper sprays.
Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald said the actions of the Garda in fearlessly opposing vicious criminal elements was a true example of service and commitment to the communities they served.
She pointed out that plans for the ASU were drawn up in the wake of the Kinahan-Hutch feud, which has so far claimed nine lives.
The unit is equipped with machine guns and pistols and also carry breeching equipment, a ballistic shield and a medical bag, including a defibrillator.
At the launch Ms O'Sullivan rejected criticism of the level of resources deployed to immigration controls and Border checks.
She was responding this afternoon to comments made by the chief constable of the PSNI, George Hamilton who claimed that international criminals were gaining entry to the UK from the Republic.
Mr Hamilton told a British House of Commons committee he believed there were not sufficient resources allocated by the Garda to tackle the threat.
However, Ms O'Sullivan said An Garda Siochana worked very closely with the PSNI and Border agencies and also had a dedicated immigration unit at Dundalk.
She said gardai had a number of successes and had intercepted people travelling "north/south and east/west".
The gardai would continue to co-operate closely with the PSNI and she defended the right of the chief constable to express his opinion.
Ms O'Sullivan was speaking at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park at the launch of a new armed support unit (ASU) for the Dublin region.
Other parts of the country already have their own regional support units and this is the first time that one has been dedicated to the capital.
The commissioner said it was hoped to set up a strategic command centre that would co-ordinate the activities of all of the units in the first quarter of the new year.
Mrs Fitzgerald also announced that she would bring regulations to allow responsibility for garda promotions to be handed over to the Policing Authority to the Cabinet next week.
She held out little hope for the promotion prospects of six senior officers, who were awaiting upgrading to the ranks of assistant commissioner (1) and chief superintendent (5) before the end of the year.
She said she had given the go-ahead for all of the critical vacancies, outlined by the commissioner, under the terms of the employment control framework (ECF), which provides guidelines for promotions in the State sector.
The garda commissioner said the ECF had been set up in 2010, when it was thought the strength of the Garda would fall to 11,500, and with the force now destined to be brought up to 15,000, it was time to review those guidelines.