Saturday 20 January 2018

Furious row erupts in the Dáil over gangland killings

Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Tom Burke
Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A furious row has broken out between Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald over the Government’s response to gangland activity in Dublin city.

The Dáil descended into a shouting match as backbenchers from Fine Gael and Sinn Féin sought to back up their representative in a heated debate.

Ms Fitzgerald accused the Dublin Central TD of being “disingenuous” and trying to “divide communities”, while Ms McDonald described the Government’s actions as “superficial” and “tokenistic”.

They were reacting to the murder of Michael Keogh (37) in Drumcondra yesterday. He is believed to the 13th victim of the Hutch-Kinahan feud which has plagued the north inner city since the Regency Hotel murder just over a year ago.

Ms McDonald described the killing as a “ruthless murder”, saying “these gangsters walk our streets with impunity”.

She said people are “literally terrified” and the Government is “contributing to an environment which allows this feud flourish”.

The Sinn Féin TD argued that Gardaí are not being given adequate resources to deal with the problem.

A visibly angry Tánaiste hit back that the north inner city had been starved of resources for decades but was now very much on the government agenda.

She said the new Gardaí’s Armed Response Unit is “flat out” and has prevented “a large number of planned killings”.

“There’ll be no resource spared in terms of dealing with this scourge,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Amid heckles from all sides of the Chamber she accused Ms McDonald of being “particularly disingenuous” in her comments given that many local people and councillors have acknowledge the efforts of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe in the past year.

Ms McDonald replied: “It seems your government imagines that people in the inner city will be happy with the crumbs from the table.”

As tempers rose the Tánaiste said: “As usual deputy you are about dividing communities. You cannot even acknowledge the huge activity that has taken place in the north inner city.

“The community acknowledged the importance of the initiative underway.

“There’s a long way to go. It’s not going to be dealt with overnight,” she said.

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