Prisoners have access to better technology than gardai, says Rabbitte
CONVICTED criminals have better technology and equipment behind bars than investigating gardai, it was claimed yesterday.
Labour Party justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte maintained detectives were trying to solve gangland killings without basic technology while inmates had access to smuggled in mobile phones or a BlackBerry.
He said gardai need to be properly resourced and well equipped so that they can detect the crimes and secure convictions. Mr Rabbitte highlighted figures that showed 23 convictions have been secured out of 193 gun murders committed since 1998.
"These figures mean that just one gun murder in eight will ever result in somebody ending up behind bars," he said. "It would appear that these thugs can act with virtual impunity."
Gardai have backed public sector workers in their fight against pay cuts by refusing to use their own mobile phones, laptops and cameras for work.
Mr Rabbitte claimed Justice Minister Dermot Ahern had let down members of An Garda Siochana who were tackling gangland crime.
"Unfortunately we are asking the gardai to fight this problem with one hand tied behind their back," he continued.
"We saw in the recent Garda Inspectorate report where most garda stations don't even have access to the most basic technological tools like email, which in this day and age is beyond comprehension.
"In fact, convicted criminals in our jails, with their mobile phones and their BlackBerries, seem to be better equipped than the average garda or detective."
In reply to a Dail question on gun murders, Mr Ahern said he was deeply concerned by the number but stressed any killing not solved remain under active investigation.
He said in 193 murders involving a firearm, proceedings were begun in 57 cases and 23 convictions secured.
"It is expected that the number of convictions obtained will increase as garda investigations are concluded and proceedings commenced are finalised by the courts," he said.
"This applies particularly to murders committed in the most recent years."
Elsewhere he added that people arrested can also be charged for an offence other than murder, for example firearms offences, or convicted in court for an offence other than murder.