Garda Commissioner defends policing stance after gangland murders

Garda Commissioner defends policing stance after gangland murders
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan during a media briefing at the Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, in relation to the recent shootings in Dublin. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has been forced to defend her organised crime units having no intelligence that a boxing weigh-in would be targeted by a gangland hit squad.

O'Sullivan faced scrutiny as to why there was no security presence at the Regency Hotel in Dublin last Friday when David Byrne, 33, was shot dead.

The questions hung over policing strategy as a small number of crime journalists and photographers had staked out the gathering amid speculation that big players in the criminal underworld would be attending.

“Last Friday evening was a public sporting event and you cannot have members of An Garda Síochána going to every single event just because criminals may be there,” the Commissioner said.

Byrne’s murder – a suspected retaliation for the shooting dead of Gary Hutch in the Costa del Sol last September – is suspected of being avenged on Monday night with the murder of Hutch’s uncle Eddie, a brother of Gerry Hutch, who carries the nickname The Monk.

The Commissioner said “hindsight is often good” and added: “People will go to specific events, some of the people who attend public events are criminals.

“We cannot be at every place (where) criminals are attending public events so we prioritise deployment of resources based on threat and intelligence.

“If we had anything of those of indications we would have had people there with the appropriate response.”

Amid the scrutiny on policing tactics there were pledges from the outgoing government for resources to fund permanent armed checkpoints and patrols in areas of Dublin where known gangsters live and associate.

The very obvious ramping up of security can already be seen in a number of locations including around Seville Place in Dublin’s north inner city, less than a mile from where Eddie Hutch was murdered.

Four heavily armed officers from the Garda’s Emergency Response Unit, kitted out with protective eye wear, balaclavas, body armour and headgear, were backed up by at least 12 uniformed officers and plain clothed armed detectives to check identities and movements of passing motorists and cyclists.

There are fears more death threats are circulating in the gangland feud but the Commissioner refused to discuss those.

But she said conflicting statements both purporting to come from the dissident republican faction Continuity IRA – one to the BBC in Belfast claiming responsibility for the Regency attack and another dismissing that claim – are still being investigated.

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