PJ Browne: Thompson must go behind bars -- or this will continue

PJ Browne

THE seizure of four Ingram machine pistols in west Dublin last night has undoubtedly saved lives.

I have no doubt that associates of Freddie Thompson were intent on using these weapons in the near future, most likely on the built-up streets of Dublin's south city.

Given the recklessness of Dublin's gunmen there would have been serious risk of injury, or worse, to innocent members of the public had they been deployed in this manner.

In fact, given that most Dublin criminals would be simply unable to control the rate of fire of an Ingram, there would have been carnage.

Although the Crumlin feud appears to have calmed somewhat, the gangs may have stepped back, but they certainly have not gone away.

For the best part of a decade these gangsters murdered each other in tit-for-tat killings, and there remains a lot of aggrieved criminals in the Crumlin, Drimnagh and the south inner city who would take revenge given half a chance.

Add this motive for vengeance to the battle for dwindling revenues from the recession-hit drug trade and you have a toxic, and bloody, combination. Tension in the area at times remains palpable.

Of course, Freddie could also have been tooling up to take on the Republican racketeers who are now imposing a 'crime tax' on the drugs gangs.

Freddie is supposed to be short of cash and would have fought to the death rather than hand money over to the Real IRA and INLA racketeers trying to control the pub door and drugs business.

The seizure of the Mulhuddart firearms and ammunition is to be expected. While I was chief of detectives in the south inner city, my colleagues received intelligence that Thompson's crew planned to import machine pistols and grenades.

This weaponry was to be used to take out a rival gang in a bar or other open public space. I have no doubt these Ingrams were to be deployed in a similar plot.

Hanging over all of this remains the figure of 'Fat' Freddie. Despite the attentions of many specialised units in different countries, my former colleagues are the ones who have taken the fight to the Thompson gang in Ireland. I congratulate them on this seizure.

Thompson has been on the run for months, and is subject of an European Arrest Warrant. Despite the fact that gardai have seized his weapons and his rockets, police forces across Europe -- where 'Fat' Freddie is at large -- appear unable to capture him.

When his rival gang boss was hit with a major conviction, tensions calmed considerably in the south city. I have no doubt that placing Thompson in custody would have a similar effect.

Until then, we can expect more seizures like that in Mulhuddart.

PJ Browne is a former detective superintendent who was chief of detectives at Pearse Street, Kevin Street and Kilmainham garda stations