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Question

110. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps she will take to address the ongoing issue of unlawful killings, generated by organised crime, with particular reference to shootings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7565/15]

111. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which specific steps will be taken to impede the development of organised criminal gangs, with particular reference to paying special attention to new entrants into this field of activity, and the likely consequences if this is not vigorously challenged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7566/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 110 and 111 together.
The Policing Plan 2015 of An Garda Síochána sets out the continued commitment of An Garda Síochána to pro-actively target groups and individuals engaged in criminal activity, including organised criminal activities.
It is unfortunately the case that gun crime has for some time been an inherent part of organised criminal activity in Ireland, as it is in other similar jurisdictions. I am in regular contact with the Garda Commissioner in relation to the challenges presented by this type of crime and the Commissioner has outlined the substantial efforts being made by An Garda Síochána to identify and target those involved. Such crimes demand a robust response, and this is precisely what is happening. Gardaí tackle this type of crime through a range of targeted and intelligence based operations, often disrupting and preventing incidents, as well as detecting and prosecuting those involved.
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 DNA Database legislation enacted last year, which provides for the establishment of a Database which will have the capacity to link suspects to unsolved crimes using forensic evidence, and will greatly assist Gardaí in investigating a whole range serious offences.
The various Garda operations which target armed and organised criminals are complemented and supported by Garda engagement with local communities, including a range of community local fora, to address local concerns relating to crime, community safety and the impact of organised crime on community life. Support for young persons who may be at risk of becoming involved in crime is particularly evident in the Garda Youth Diversion Programme and in particular the 100 Garda Youth Diversion Projects which operate nationwide and which are funded and overseen by my Department's unit within the Irish Youth Justice Service. These projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives run by community based organisations in partnership with An Garda Síochána which aim to reduce youth crime and seek to stop young people from progressing into adult crime.