Saturday, 31 October 2009

Gun crime down 75pc after gang crackdown

Gun crime down 75pc after gang crackdown

By Barry Duggan

Saturday October 31 2009

THE intense garda crackdown on Limerick's criminal gangs has resulted in a decrease in gun crime in the city by almost 75pc from record high levels of two years ago.

In 2007, gardai in Limerick investigated 104 incidents of illegal discharge of firearms in the city. To date, there have only been 27 recorded incidents this year.

Speaking at a meeting of Limerick's Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Gerry Mahon said the gun crime figures in 2007 were an "all-time high".

The garda revelations come in a week where a 27-year-old man was left fighting for his life after he was shot in Southill on Wednesday morning and a pipe bomb was discovered in St Mary's Park. Two people have been charged in connection with these incidents.

Separately, a shotgun was fired in Shanabooley Road, Ballynanty, on the northside of the city on Thursday night. Nobody was injured.

Despite the recent events in Limerick, Chief Supt Mahon said officers were continuing to make progress in their campaign against crime and feuding gangs.

He said the armed Regional Response Unit had been maintaining an active presence on the streets and while the "level of threat increases and abates" the battle went on every day.

Following the murders of Shane Geoghegan last November and Roy Collins in April, Limerick's criminal gangs have come under intense scrutiny from the gardai.

In recent months, all senior members of the notorious McCarthy-Dundon gang have been convicted and jailed for various offences.

Some of our major gangland figures are in custody at the moment," Chief Supt Mahon said. "In fact some of the most active ones are in prison, but that doesn't mean this is something that you can rest on; this is a battle that goes on every day," he added.

The meeting also heard that there is a number of Criminal Assets Bureau profilers based in Limerick who are in contact with their counterparts in Dublin on a daily basis.


In recent weeks, several senior gardai who were involved in major successful investigations against the city's gangs have retired from the force.

Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan raised concerns with Limerick's senior garda officer that the progress made by the force would be undermined by the retirements.

But Chief Supt Mahon said there were officers filling any void left vacant.

"I can assure the city that we have people of equal calibre and knowledge -- especially knowledge of the city and the criminal elements at work -- ready, willing, and able to take their places," he said.

Chief Supt Mahon said the number of gardai based in Limerick was greater than ever and that the 100 extra gardai assigned as a result of the issues were "intact and out there".

He added that Gda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy was committed to maintaining garda numbers in Limerick.

- Barry Duggan

Irish Independent

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