Justice Minister urged to increase garda numbers in Cork after recent shooting

Justice Minister urged to increase garda numbers in Cork after recent shooting

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has been urged to increase garda numbers in Cork city due to fears the recent shooting of a senior Real IRA member will set off a series of "tat-for-tat" killings in the city, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Jim O Callaghan called for the action on Friday as he warned if dissident paramilitary groups are not monitored closely events could spiral out of control "in the same way as gangland criminality n Dublin in recent times".

Speaking during a Dáil debate with Ms Fitzgerald, Mr O Callaghan said he was deeply concerned at the killing earlier this month of Aidan O Driscoll, who was shot three times in broad daylight on the Commons Road in Blackpool on December 7.

The 37-year-old, who was nicknamed the Beast, was believed to have been heavily linked to the Real IRA and had previously survived an earlier punishment shooting in 2013.

Raising the issue on Friday, Mr O Callaghan said he is deeply concerned the situation could result in a domino effect of shootings in the city, and urged Ms Fitzgerald to take action now to address the potential problem.

"We have unfortunately seen in recent times an upsurge in paramilitary activity from dissident groups. It is very important that the Government, the Minister and our security service keeps a very close eye on this.

"We do not want to a situation to develop where paramilitary activity among dissident groups gets out of control in the same way as gangland criminality has got out of control in Dublin in recent times.

"The reason I raised this question is because of the unfortunate man who was murdered in Cork last week.

"It appears to me that there is some form of a split in the dissident republican movement in southern Ireland. We need Garda presence stepped up, particularly in Cork where this problem seems to have culminated in recent times.

"We have to be careful we do not allow a situation to develop where tit-for-tat killings take place in respect of the dissident community," he said.

Responding to the concerns, Ms Fitzgerald said she can "only agree" with the need to prevent further attacks and said actions are being taken to address the issue.

While not going into the specific shooting of Mr O Driscoll, she said gardai have recently been given fresh powers to covertly intercept communications from individuals who are "serious threats to the State's security", while a new special criminal court has also been established.

Meanwhile, the same debate also heard Ms Fitzgerald confirm she will bring new domestic violence prevention laws to cabinet next week, including the full implementation of the Istanbul convention.

The new laws, if enacted, will extend access to interim barring orders and give judges fresh powers to refer offenders to counselling and anger-management programmes


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