Ali Bracken Crime correspondent
There has been a 60% increase in gangland killings this year and justice minister Dermot Ahern has now vowed to make organised and drug-related crime a priority for next year.
There have been 19 such killings so far this year, compared with 12 in 2007, according to an analysis of gangland murders conducted by the Sunday Tribune. This represents a rise of 58%.
Sean Cloherty (27) is the latest gangland victim to lose his life. The drug dealer was shot dead at his home on 25 November while his baby daughter slept upstairs. Cloherty had built up a sizeable number of enemies because of his involvement in the drugs trade. He was shot five times with a handgun in the neck and upper body at his home in Ashcroft Grove in Blakestown, west Dublin.
Just two weeks before that, rugby captain Shane Geoghegan (28) was returning home from watching the Ireland-Canada rugby game at a friend's house in the Kilteragh estate in Limerick when he was shot dead. He was killed by gangland criminals who mistook him for a member of the Keane-Collopy drugs gang.
The rival McCarthy-Dundon gang was responsible for the murder. Other high-profile gangland killings include the murder in August of armed robber Paul 'Farmer' Martin (39), who was shot as he sat drinking in the Jolly Toper pub, in Finglas, Dublin.
Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan said swift action was needed to tackle the escalating problem. "It clearly shows that gangland [activity] is thriving not only in Dublin but in other parts of the country. As a society we cannot have a situation where certain areas run by gangland figures are expanding. It's an affront to the democratic process."
He added that Fine Gael's recently published Criminal Justice Violent Crime Prevention Bill would lower the number of gangland murders. It proposes restricting the movements of known gangland criminals on the word of garda chief superintendents and lengthy jail sentences for criminals who breach these bonds.
Last week, Ahern said funding to tackle the issue will be maintained next year.
December 7, 2008