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Lee told Ahern how southside burglars want gold

GEORGE LEE'S last act as a Fine Gael TD was to warn the Justice Minister that thieves were targeting south Dublin homes for gold.

But in a written response Minister Dermot Ahern told the drop out that he knew nothing about the crime spree.

Lee had submitted a parliamentary question to the Department of Justice asking if Mr Ahern's attention had been "drawn to the fact that gardai in Dublin South are telling victims of burglary that there has been an increase in burglaries due to the fact that criminals are looking for gold".

The precious metal has soared in value since the recession as people look to invest in commodities rather than less stable options such as bank shares.

Mr Lee told the Minister that an increase in burglaries could be linked to the "many cash-for-gold establishments that have sprung up recently".

He wanted to know if this trend was being repeated nationwide.



Proof

The RTE man also asked the Minister for his "views on ensuring that persons must provide proof of ownership before being allowed to claim this cash for gold".

However, Minister Ahern was only able to offer a limited response saying that neither his Department nor the gardai have "any function" in relation to the regulation of legal transactions in gold.

"Furthermore, the informal purchase of gold is not specifically regulated in criminal legislation," he said.

The Minister said: "I have not been informed of any increase in burglaries due to the fact that criminals are looking for gold."

The Herald also reviewed press statements released by Mr Lee during his time in Leinster House. During his eight months he has issued 21 official press releases through the Fine Gael office.

An analysis of releases suggests that Lee's priorities varied between efforts to influence economic issues and promote constituency concerns.

Based on his own statements, the biggest issue was "cowboy clampers" who he issued six releases about.

There were three each relating to Nama and the Budget, and two calling for a banking inquiry.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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