60. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to concerns of residents in the north inner city relating to the ongoing feud which has claimed many lives; if sufficient support and resources have been allocated to gardaí in the north inner city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5650/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): At the outset it is important to note that the fatal shooting that took place last week in Dublin’s North Strand is currently under investigation by An Garda Síochána. The Deputy will appreciate that the manner in which particular investigations are conducted is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team and I have no role in relation to such investigations. However, I met with the Garda Commissioner and members of his team yesterday and the response by An Garda Síochána to organised crime was one of the issues discussed.
This shooting occurred within days of the brutal killing of Derek Hutch near Cloverhill Prison and the non-fatal shootings which took place outside the National Stadium on the South Circular Road on 26 January 2018. I can assure the House that An Garda Síochána are also conducting comprehensive investigations into both these incidents and I wish them well with their enquiries.
Let me be clear. This type of criminal behaviour has no place in civilised society and will not be tolerated by An Garda Síochána or this Government. An Garda Síochána have faced down this type of threat in the past and will do so again.
I note that there has been some commentary recently to the effect that that the State provides less resources to policing organised crime north of the river Liffey. That assertion is ill-informed and unfounded. Garda operations in Dublin’s North Inner-City have been underpinned by the increased resources made available to An Garda Síochána by this Government. In Budget 2018, for example, approximately €100 million was made available for Garda overtime to support ongoing Garda operations, such as Operation Hybrid.
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 conviction last week 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.
The Government enacted new legislation to further target criminal activities including the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016 which 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.
While the allocation of Garda resources, including personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and Equality is advised that since January 2017 a number of new Gardaí have been assigned to Store Street, Bridewell and Mountjoy Garda Stations. Furthermore, work is progressing towards the reopening of Fitzgibbon Street Garda station with funding for the project having been made available under the mid-term review of the Capital Plan 2015-2021.
There is also a dedicated Divisional Community Policing Office now based in Store Street for the North Central Division to ensure that the issues highlighted by the local community and stakeholders are dealt with expeditiously and effectively.
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.