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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Priority Question 63 - Crime prevention [46618/13].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Priority Question 63 - Crime prevention [46618/13]. (05 Nov 2013)

URL: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20a...


63. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions being taken to deal with violent crime and gangland murders on our streets. [46618/13] 

Deputy Finian McGrath: I raise the issue in the context of events in recent days of which the Minister is well aware - that is, the actions and violence that have taken place on our streets among these criminal gangs. There is huge concern among the public, particularly in the wider community. Their concerns are based on public safety. What action is the Minister taking to deal with this major crisis?
 
Deputy Alan Shatter: The Deputy has used his 30 seconds well in raising a serious issue. It is an important matter. I can assure the Deputy that violent crime, including the brutal murders related to the activities of criminal gangs, is being tackled aggressively by An Garda Síochána with all necessary resources deployed in the investigation and prosecution of these appalling incidents. The organised criminal activity which gives rise to this violence is also being targeted by An Garda Síochána across a number of fronts, including through the use of focused intelligence-led operations by specialist units such as the serious and organised crime unit and the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
 
While the challenges posed by gangland and organised crime remain clear to all, week in, week out, An Garda Síochána is making arrests and bringing persons before the courts, with substantial sentences handed down in many instances. The drug trade is being tackled relentlessly, with drugs valued at €220 million seized by the Garda and the Revenue Commissioners between 2011 and 2013, as well as substantial seizures of the other trafficked and counterfeit goods from which organised crime profits. The Garda has also had considerable success in disrupting the activities of paramilitary groups which are inextricably linked to organised crime and which remain intent on thwarting the democratic will of the Irish people, North and South.
 
These law enforcement operations are underpinned by a comprehensive framework of criminal law measures which are being fully utilised by the Garda. I have, however, made it clear to the Commissioner that I will look positively at any legislative changes he may wish to make which would render our efforts more effective. I also draw attention to the recent publication of new legislation to provide for the establishment of a DNA database to assist the Garda Síochána in tackling crime. The intelligence generated will be invaluable to the Garda and will greatly assist in the investigation of a wide range of serious crimes, including homicides.
 
The Deputy will also be aware that the most recent recorded crime statistics, which were released at the end of last month, show that crime is falling in most categories, including homicide, kidnapping, weapons and explosives and drug offences. In fact, total recorded crime was down 8% over the 12 months to the end of June 2013, which reflects well on the work of An Garda Síochána. The crime figures show that those involved in criminal gangs and the evil drugs trade which funds their operations are being robustly opposed, and the Commissioner and I are united in our determination that these efforts will be vigorously maintained.
 
Deputy Finian McGrath: I thank the Minister for his response. I wish to focus on three major questions. First, in light of what has happened in recent days, with evidence of young people being shot and their body parts being found in rivers and streams, does the Minister accept that for many of those people life is very cheap?
 
When the Garda is tackling these crimes, are there sufficient resources on the ground to deal with the criminals and criminal gangs in question?
 
The Minister mentioned confiscated drugs worth €220 million. I warmly welcome this, but a huge amount of drugs is getting through. The Minister referred to crime rates dropping, but he is referring to reported crime. Much of the gangland crime is under the radar and has not been reported. Communities are being intimidated, as are young people, and this does not even reach the Garda station. How can the Minister respond to these trends in the real world?
 
Deputy Alan Shatter: There is no reason to believe crime is reported less or more now than it was in the past. This island endured 30 years of violence perpetrated by subversive groups, in addition to gangland criminals.
 
On the resources issue, I am assured by the Commissioner that the Garda Síochána is devoting all the necessary resources to the investigation and disruption of serious crime. It is wrong to characterise this in any way as a budgetary issue. There have been serious gun and gang crimes for several years in the State, including a higher number of gangland murders when the number of gardaí was higher than it is now. The Deputy will be aware that there are a number of gangs in our midst that will stop at nothing. This demands a determined and targeted response from the Garda and that is what the force is engaged in. I agree with the Deputy that there are individuals engaged in gangland crime for whom life is cheap, who have no moral compass and who are completely and utterly lacking in insight as to the devastation they cause. There are gangs at war with one another. The Garda is targeting these gangs and it has been enormously successful in bringing before the courts individuals engaged in murders on the streets. I condemn totally the barbaric incident to which the Deputy referred and which resulted in the body parts of an individual known to have a criminal background being found in recent days. There is no excuse or explanation of any kind for such conduct. It is of the greatest importance to the Garda that it have the support of all the community in its work.
 
Deputy Finian McGrath: The Minister must ensure this matter does not go off the political agenda. Many people, particularly those in disadvantaged communities, seem to believe it has gone off the radar. The gangs must be targeted and driven out of business because they are creating havoc, much of which is not seen and only some aspects are noted in the courts, particularly in sentencing and such issues. Much of the damage is never seen. The destruction of many families and much of the intimidation never reach the headlines.
 
Deputy Alan Shatter: From the many arrests that have taken place in recent months and the many successes of the Garda, not only in detecting crime and arresting individuals but also in the seizure of the goods to which I referred, no one could possibly think this matter has gone off the agenda. This is a central agenda of An Garda Síochána and it results in the very specific and successful targeting of gangs and individuals. As the Deputy knows, the difficulty is that when individuals from a gang find themselves sentenced to a term of imprisonment, others appear on the scene and seek to take their place. Gardaí, with great bravery, put their lives at risk in facing individuals who have no moral compass or compunction about taking life. The Garda, with my full support and that of the Commissioner, is extremely effective in tackling the individuals in question, bringing them before the courts and securing convictions.

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