45. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps being taken by An Garda Síochána to seize and eliminate illegal guns following recent gun crime especially in the Dublin region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4164/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I can assure the Deputy that the Government is fully committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána has the necessary resources to continue to successfully disrupt the operation of criminal groups who carry out gun crimes and who endanger the safety of our communities.
The Deputy will have noted the significant progress made by Gardaí in tackling the insidious threat of organised crime, particularly in Dublin’s North Inner-City. I am advised by the Commissioner that there are currently a number of concentrated intelligence led operations targeting organised criminality. These are concentrated in, but by no means confined to, the Dublin region.
Since the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau was established in March 2015, it has been responsible for the seizure of a total of ninety-one (91) firearms, including fifty-three (53) hand guns, nine (9) machine guns, seven (7) assault rifles, eight (8) shotguns; four (4) rifles and ten (10) stun guns. Many of these seizures have taken place in very dangerous circumstances where their use was allegedly imminent. A number of suspects have been arrested and in some cases have since been successfully convicted.
The Deputy will be familiar with Operation Hybrid which has been deployed since February 2016, as a result of an escalation in violence between organised crime gangs in the Dublin Metropolitan Region. The strategic objective of Operation Hybrid is to have a three-pronged approach - preventative, investigative and targeted.
The preventative element incorporates high visibility Divisional checkpoints with armed support on checkpoints and patrols provided by Special Detective Unit, Emergency Response Unit, Armed Regional Support Unit, local Detective and plain clothes units.
The investigative element involves cohesive investigation teams assigned to the murders and serious incidents, with technical and forensic investigative supports. As the Deputy may be aware, Interpol are facilitating international enquiries.
The ongoing work to identify, profile and target organised crime groups is focused and intelligence led, and supported by detective units nationally and internationally.
As of 13 January 2019, Operation Hybrid has resulted in:
- 86 arrests.
- 11 persons charged in relation to organised crime gang murder investigations,
- 3 persons convicted of murder with life sentences imposed.
- 37 firearms seized (specifically in relation to murder offences).
- Approximately 290 searches.- 17,000 lines of enquiry conducted with more than 73,000 high visibility checkpoints implemented with significant support from Armed Support Units.
The Deputy will also be aware that a number of arrests were made in the UK recently on foot of investigations, supported by An Garda Siochana, into the supply of drugs and firearms in Ireland and the UK. There were also a number of significant drug seizures made by An Garda Siochana in recent weeks.
The Deputy will appreciate that the allocation of all Garda resources, including personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team and I have no role in this matter. However, I can inform the Deputy that An Garda Síochána have confirmed that the organisation has been fully resourced to conduct this multi faceted approach to target organised crime groups within the Dublin Metropolitan Region and significant results have accrued by the organisation’s ability to investigate this activity in a coordinated policing approach. This has resulted in significant disruption in seizing drugs, cash and firearms from organised crime groups.