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[Oireachtas] Dáil Eireann debate: Gangland killings [55543/12]. (11 Dec 2012)

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54. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps being taken to address the increase in gangland crime and murders over the past number of months; if his attention has been drawn to a recent United States Congressional Research Service report entitled Terrorism and Transnational Crime: Foreign Policy Issues for Congress, in which it cited US Department of Homeland Security authorities which found that the production, smuggling and sale of tobacco products, including genuine and counterfeit cigarettes, is a lucrative form of financing for organised crime as well as terrorist groups (details supplied): if he is satisfied that Garda resources are being adequately deployed to tackle this source of income for dissident republicans as part of their efforts to tackle gangland crime; if he has discussed the issue with the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Finance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

 

Deputy Alan Shatter: I remain in ongoing contact with the Garda Commissioner about all aspects of serious crime and I can assure the House that the Garda authorities will continue to bear down heavily on the activities of those involved in gangland crime, including criminal terrorists.

 

 

I am aware of the US report to which the Deputy refers, and it confirms our long-standing knowledge of the involvement of terrorist groups in organised crime. It is clear that the paramilitary groups that wish to undermine the peaceful intent of the majority of people on this island have inextricable links to organised crime. Many of their activities, including drug smuggling, tobacco and fuel fraud and extortion, are plain, unvarnished criminality. Whatever veneer of patriotism these gangs of criminal terrorists may wish to employ, the fact is that organised crime is organised crime and they are up to their necks in it.

 

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. As the Deputy will know, extensive Garda operations have been launched against gangs and there have been significant drug seizures in recent months and weeks. These have included a major programme of more than 200 searches which were carried out nationwide under Operation Wireless, resulting in the seizure of a substantial amount of drugs and more than 100 arrests. Overall, the Garda Síochána seized drugs of an estimated value of €65.5 million in 2011, with drug seizures estimated at €90.4 million for the first nine months of this year.

 

Equally, the Deputy will be aware that the Garda Síochána has launched a series of sustained operations against the activities of criminal terrorists in so-called dissident republican organisations. As a number of people are facing charges in this regard, the House will appreciate why I cannot be more specific.

 

I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners, which has the lead role in combating tobacco fraud, that in the period from January to October this year a total of 91 million cigarettes and almost 4,000 kg of tobacco were seized. In addition, during that period there were more than 100 convictions for smuggling or selling of illicit tobacco products.

 

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

 

Although we should not underestimate the difficulties the Garda authorities face in trying to prevent these criminal enterprises and in bringing their perpetrators to justice, I can assure the House that the Garda is determined, in co-operation with the PSNI and other relevant agencies, including the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Customs Service, to tackle robustly the activities of these criminal terrorists and the organised crime gangs with which they are inextricably linked.

 

Deputy Niall Collins: When the Garda Commissioner appeared before the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality recently, as the Minister will be aware, he outlined up to 25 criminal organisations operating in the State which are part of an organised crime network and gangland activities. It is mind-boggling to think that up to €860 million is being lost to the Exchequer by way of the illegal tobacco trade, fuel laundering, counterfeit goods, digital piracy and counterfeit medicines, apart from the illegal drugs trade, which is wreaking havoc in many communities throughout the country. People have asked me and others whether the State is beginning to lose the battle against these gangland criminals who are operating in Dublin and right across the country. Linked to that, the Minister needs to nail his colours to the mast in stating what will be the minimum number of members of An Garda Síochána in terms of the strength of the force.

 

CONTINUED

[Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin:] However, such events imprint themselves on the consciousness of a community, which is not healthy. I know children who have lost family members to violent crime, and this has created a scar that will last a lifetime and poison their minds, possibly irreversibly.

 

The killing of Eamon Kelly was connected to the murder, also in my constituency, of Alan Ryan, who was shot dead on 3 September last. The Irish Times reported the following in connection with the killings:

 

Gardaí believe Ryan was shot dead in a conspiracy between a number of crime gangs as part of their efforts to resist the extortion demands of the Real IRA, with Ryan having led that extortion campaign. Intelligence suggests the Real IRA believe Eamon Kelly had assisted the gangs in organising the Ryan murder, with Kelly believed to have been gunned down as a result of his involvement.

 

Deputy Kevin Humphreys and I represent areas where young children and men are dragged into gang culture as they seek a perverse sense of empowerment.

 

I have a number of direct questions for the Minister. Does he agree that murder is murder regardless of who is the victim and whether he or she is known to the Garda? Does he have a view on how we can prevent this specific feud and feuds in general from spiralling out of control to avoid further bloodshed? Does he agree that constant attacks by politicians and media commentators on the pay, terms and conditions of the Garda Síochána are undermining Garda morale? Is he confident the Garda has sufficient resources to address this issue? How can we prevent young men and women from being sucked into this destructive way of life?

 

Deputy John Perry: I thank the Deputy for raising this important matter. I am speaking on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality who is unable to be present owing to other business. The Minister shares the widespread outrage at the type of criminality to which the Deputy refers and fully appreciates the concerns of communities who find this violence taking place on their 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 society.

 

The Minister is 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. 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. Extensive Garda operations have been launched against gangs and significant drug seizures made in recent months and weeks. These have included a major programme of more than 200 searches which were carried out nationwide under Operation Wireless, resulting in the seizure of a substantial amount of drugs and more than 100 arrests. Overall, An Garda Síochána seized drugs of an estimated value of €65.5 million in 2011, with drugs seizures estimated at €90.4 million for the first nine months of this year

 

Dáil Éireann Debate: Gangland Killings

Vol. 786 No. 1

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Item Type:Dail Debates
Source:Oireachtas
Date:11 December 2012
EndNote:View
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Substance related offence > Drug offence > Illegal drug possession (seizures)
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
MM-MO Crime and law > Substance related offence > Drug offence > Illegal transportation of drugs (smuggling / trafficking)
MM-MO Crime and law > Organised crime
MM-MO Crime and law > Crime > Substance related crime > Crime associated with substance production and distribution

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