Home > Dail Eireann debate. Priority questions 1 & 3 – Gangland killings [46576/12, 46644/12].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Priority questions 1 & 3 – Gangland killings [46576/12, 46644/12]. (24 Oct 2012)

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1. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress that has been made in confronting the increase in gangland crime over the past number of weeks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46576/12] 

3. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will clarify that there is an action plan that will tackle the recent gangland murders and crimes; and if so, if he will outline same. [46644/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 3 together.

I share the widespread outrage at the serious crimes which have been carried out recently and fully appreciate the concerns of communities that find this violence taking place on their local streets. The brutal nature of these crimes is a stark reminder to us of the mentality of those involved in organised criminality and the danger they pose to our society. I am in ongoing contact with the Garda Commissioner about all aspects of serious crime and the Garda will continue to bear down heavily on the activities of those involved in gangland crime. Specifically, the Garda Síochána policing plan sets out key actions aimed at tackling organised crime, with a continued focus on drug trafficking, identifying and targeting the proceeds of crime and challenging organised crime gangs through proactive, intelligence-based operations. The determination with which the Garda is putting this plan into effect is clear from the extent of the Garda operations
Launched against gangs as well as the many drug seizures that have taken place in recent months, weeks and days. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Garda Commissioner and all in the Garda Síochána on their successes in tackling serious crime as well as all other forms of crime. The most recent recorded crime statistics, which were released last month, indicate that in most categories crime levels are falling, which also reflects well on the work of the Garda Síochána. These figures showed that in the 12-month period to the end of June, the number of murders decreased by 8% and the number of assault offences declined by 9.7%.
We should not underestimate the difficulties the Garda faces in trying to prevent gangland killings and related crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice. These crimes are carefully planned and carried out by people who are familiar with criminal and forensic investigation techniques. Moreover, even where members of gangs are clearly at risk, not only will they generally not co-operate with the Garda, but they will do everything they can to avoid Garda attention. Unfortunately, there has been gangland violence for some time. Where gardaí learn through intelligence that an individual engaged in criminality has been targeted by others, where possible, they warn the individual under threat. However, it is unrealistic to expect the Commissioner to devote his entire resources to individually protecting people who are routinely trying to avoid gardaí in order that they can continue to engage in criminal activity. Such an approach could only come at the expense of ordinary Garda activity to protect the community generally.
The only effective way to combat organised crime is by disrupting and prosecuting those involved in its operations, especially the drugs trade, which is at the heart of much of its profits. Substantial efforts by the Garda Síochána and Customs and Excise are, therefore, devoted to damaging this lucrative business, with the value of drug seizures estimated at €59.3 million for the first six months of the year. This figure does not include a number of substantial seizures made towards the end of the period in question, which remain under analysis and include the largest ever inland seizure of cocaine made in this jurisdiction. These successes are being achieved on a daily basis. Earlier today, as part of Operation Nitrogen, an intelligence-led investigation by the Garda national drugs unit, assisted by divisional units, conducted eight searches into cannabis cultivation around the country which resulted in the discovery of four large industrial-style grow houses and a storage depot for equipment used in cultivation. A number of individuals have been arrested at multiple sites and thousands of cannabis plants have been seized at various locations, with an initial estimated value of €4.96 million. Similarly, and again only this morning, a diesel-laundering operation was disrupted in Dundalk, with 21,000 litres seized. I do not want to go into detail and risk prejudicing these investigations or any prosecution; I cite these cases simply to underline that the Garda is conducting effective operations, in conjunction with Customs and Excise, on a continual basis. I congratulate both organisations on these most recent successes and all of those involved on the side of the Garda Síochána in the events of today.
Dail Eireann Debate
Priority Questions – Gangland Killings
Wednesday, October 24 2012

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