Gardai vow to use full force of new crime law in war on gang bosses
By Tom Brady Security Editor
Saturday July 25 2009
GARDA Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has sent a stern message to gang bosses that his officers would not hold back on using new legislation to bring them to justice.
He told crime lords that gardai know who they are and are gathering evidence to bring them before the courts.
He said yesterday that the new legislation, signed this week by President Mary McAleese, would be implemented in a proportionate and appropriate way -- but he warned that the spiral of gangland murders had to stop.
Mr Murphy was backed up by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, who said the emergence of a gun culture in Ireland had to be halted.
Mr Ahern had earlier announced that his bill, introducing tough controls on legally held firearms and a ban on handguns, had been signed into law by Mrs McAleese.
This is the third in a trilogy of laws brought in by the Government this week to combat the use of firearms and crack down on gangland bosses through new measures.
Mr Ahern said experience in other countries showed that any relaxation of controls on gun ownership or registration very quickly resulted in dramatic growth in firearms.
"I will not allow that to happen on my watch," he declared during a garda graduation ceremony at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary.
Mr Murphy described the new laws as another tool in the armoury of the State to tackle the crime gangs. He promised they would be used by his members as part of their ongoing war on serious crime.
Mr Murphy would not be drawn on a timeframe for a clampdown on the gang bosses and their key associates.
But he promised that the laws would be enforced at the earliest opportunity.
Mr Murphy assured the public that the legislation would not be used in a draconian way and would be implemented in a similar fashion to the Proceeds of Crime Act, which was introduced after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996.
He confirmed a report in yesterday's Irish Independent that he and his operations supremo, Deputy Commissioner Martin Callinan, had held a series of meetings with senior officers nationwide and had prepared strategies on how to combat the gangs.
Much of the vital information, which will form the basis of the garda files on the gang leaders to be submitted to the DPP, has already been gathered through intelligence and monitoring of suspects.
The main figures in the top gangs will be the priority targets for the gardai. Mr Murphy pointed out that the good work already achieved by the force was evident from the annual report from the courts service, which recorded a major increase in the number of prosecutions brought for serious offences.
And in a reference to the bosses to be targeted through the Special Criminal Court, the commissioner added: "It would be naive to think we don't know who they are. We are already working to bring them before the courts."
Meanwhile, the funeral of Anthony Cannon, the latest victim of the Crumlin-Drimnagh gang feud, which has already claimed 12 lives, will take place today in the centre of Dublin.
Cannon, from Robert Street in the south inner city, was shot yesterday week in Ballyfermot by members of the rival gang in the feud.
- Tom Brady Security Editor