Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the ongoing gangland wars can be immobilised in one way or another; if specific emergency legislation is required; if this will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6019/18]
271. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons killed in gangland associated attacks in the past ten years; his views on whether it is now time to introduce emergency legislation to deal with the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6020/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 and 271 together.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that some 130 killings in the last ten years are considered to be related to organised crime.
In terms of introducing emergency legislation, the Deputy will appreciate that a comprehensive body of legislation exists to provide for the prosecution for offences relating to organised crime. I believe that An Garda Síochána, with the support of the significant additional resources provided to it by this Government, will prevail in facing down the threat of gangland violence in our communities. An Garda Síochána have faced down this type of threat in the past and will do so again. As such, I do not believe that additional emergency legislation is required at this time.
I can inform the Deputy that a number of legislative measures have been introduced to tackle gang-related and associated crime. For example, the recent Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016 provides additional powers for Gardaí; in particular, powers to allow for the immediate seizure of assets suspected of being the proceeds of crime to prevent them being disposed of has been introduced and I am pleased that the provisions of this Act are available to An Garda Síochána today.
I can assure the Deputy that officials from my Department and An Garda Síochána keep all criminal legislation under continuous review to see whether there might be a requirement to change to the law to further disrupt the operation of criminal groups who carry out these killings and who endanger the safety of our communities.
Gardaí have made significant progress in tackling the threat of organised crime, particularly in Dublin’s North Inner-City. Operation Hybrid has been established to coordinate the response to violent crime in Dublin and address public safety concerns about community safety, particularly in the North Inner City, and benefits from significant support by Armed Support Units. As of 21 January 2018 this response has included:
- 72 arrests.
- 13 charges in total (of which 10 charges related to murder investigations, 3 charges for related offences).
- 34 firearms seized (in relation to murder offences).
- In the region of 260 searches.
- 15,260 lines of enquiry conducted with more than 50,450 high visibility checkpoints implemented with significant support from Armed Support Units.
- A significant amount of CCTV footage, mobile phone traffic, and forensic evidence has also been examined.
In addition, the recent conviction in the Special Criminal Court of Eamonn Cumberton for the murder of Michael Barr in the Sunset House pub in April 2016, and the convictions of two other men, apprehended in possession of a large number of firearms, were feud related. They came about as a result of concentrated efforts by An Garda Síochána to tackle the perpetrators involved in this ongoing feud. We have also seen reports of a series of very significant drugs seizures by An Garda Síochána, as well as important seizures of significant banking information used to fuel the activities of organised criminals. These seizures have significantly hampered the ability of these gangs to operate.
An Garda Síochána will not allow these criminals to prevail. They will ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes will be apprehended and brought to justice as quickly as possible and I can assure the Deputy that these endeavours will continue to be fully supported by the Government.