124. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions she proposes to take regarding gangland crime and recent murder, especially those committed in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9064/16]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy may be aware, the Taoiseach and I met recently with senior Garda management in relation to these serious matters, and were briefed on the significant progress being made in investigations into recent organised crime related murders in the Dublin region. The Deputy will appreciate that as these appalling crimes are the subject of ongoing Garda investigations it would not be appropriate for me to make any more detailed comment at this time.
However, I can assure the Deputy that I remain committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána have the necessary resources to pursue the robust strategy which the Commissioner and her senior officers have put in place to oppose those who have perpetrated such heinous crimes in our capital city. The Garda response includes highly visible policing, the use of armed checkpoints, and targeted and intelligence based operations, with a view to disrupting and preventing incidents as well as detecting and prosecuting those involved. Work is also progressing on the establishment of the additional, dedicated Armed Support unit for Dublin which I first announced in February and pending the establishment of which armed support is being provided on an overtime basis. These measures are in addition to the intensive Garda recruitment programme which is currently underway.
I might add that heavy penalties are provided for weapons offences in our criminal law and mandatory minimum penalties have been introduced for certain firearms offences. The considerable powers already available to Gardaí have been supplemented further by the newly established DNA Database which will have the capacity to link suspects to unsolved crimes using forensic evidence, and will greatly assist Gardaí in investigating serious gun crimes and a whole range of other serious offences.
Needless to say there are very real challenges in counteracting those who are determined to perpetuate a cycle of mindless violence without any regard to human life of public safety. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that An Garda Síochána have in the past successfully faced-down criminal gangs who believed they were above the law. I trust that all in this House will agree that the State must continue to take all appropriate measures to oppose and dismantle such operations and to disrupt the drugs trade which is at the heart of much of their activities.