79 arrests in two years in organised crime crackdown

The garda operation which targets organised crime has led to 79 arrests, 10 murder charges, and 37 firearms seized in relation to murder offences over the past two years, according to Department of Justice report.

The report also said that Operation Hybrid, which launched at the end of 2015, had resulted in around 280 searches being carried out and 16,600 lines of inquiry conducted, with more than 57,000 high-visibility checkpoints.

The figures are contained in a report by the Minister for Justice on the Operation of Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 and specifically Section 8 (6) of the Act which declares ordinary courts are “inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice in relation to certain specified offences” and instead directs those offences be tried in the Special Criminal Court.

Those offences are: directing the activities of a criminal organisation (Section 71A), participating in or contributing to certain activities of a criminal organisation (Section 72), committing an offence for a criminal organisation (Section 73), and liability for offences by bodies corporate (Section 76A).

The Garda Commissioner reported to the minister that 19 arrests have been made in the year to the end of last month relevant to section 8: Seven arrests under Section 71A, 10 arrests under Section 72, and two arrests under Section 73.

No cases have been sent forward for trial by the Special Criminal Court in accordance with section 8, but both gardaí and the minister for Justice said the provision should continue.

The report said:

While the minister notes that no cases have been sent for trial in the Special Criminal Court under the provisions of section 8, it nonetheless remains a valuable provision in the law for use when and if needed to combat serious, organised crime and to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system.

It said that while Section 8 represents “a departure from the normal and highly valued practice of jury trial”, it was the minister’s view that it is appropriate to keep the provision under review and to enable the Oireachtas to have the opportunity annually to consider the need for the section — meaning it will continue for a further period of 12 months, beginning at the end of this month.

“The Garda Commissioner has informed the Minister that this legislation is proving to be an effective tool in tackling organised criminal groups which are involved in a range of the most serious criminal activities,” said the report. 

“It is the Garda Commissioner’s view that the provisions of section 8 are aimed to target such criminal behaviour and assist greatly in the investigation of the activities being planned and committed by organised crime gangs operating in this jurisdiction.

“For these reasons, the Garda Commissioner recommends that the section would be continued in operation for a further period.”

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