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Brian, despite illness, speaks out on the gang killing spree

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan has spoken out on the latest gangland killing spree claiming that crime gangs clearly used the big freeze to settle some old scores.

Mr Lenihan also urged gardai to use their new legislative powers to tackle gang crime, adding that it was clear the cold snap was used to the criminals' advantage.

He said his colleague, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, was very concerned about the recent murders, but said gardai now have a lot more legislation behind them to use against criminal gangs.

Mr Lenihan, who was Justice Minister prior to taking up the finance portfolio, also praised the gardai and Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy for their hard work and dedication in combating these criminal gangs.

He added that the number of gang-related incidents are down.

Mr Lenihan said that cracking these gangs can be difficult, but that a lot of progress has been made by the gardai.

He was speaking after a series of murders in Dublin in the past week.

Three people have been killed in the past few days, including innocent man Paddy Mooney.

Mr Mooney (58) was shot twice in the head when he opened the door of his flat to masked gunmen.

The assassins then shot Brendan Molyneaux, their intended target. Mr Molyneaux, from York Street, was in Mr Mooney's home at Pearse House on Pearse Street in Dublin 2 when the attack happened at 6.45pm on Sunday.

Paddy was a handyman who was left partially paralysed by a stroke he suffered 20 years ago.

Dublin drugs lord 'the Don' ordered the bloody killing spree, which left Mr Mooney, Mr Molyneaux and a third man, John Paul Joyce, dead within days.

Joyce's frozen body was found in a ditch close to Dublin Airport at the weekend.