The first legal officer with the Criminal Assets Bureau, credited with drafting the legislation that paved the way for CAB, said legislation allowing the submission of ‘belief evidence’ from senior gardaí at trials is needed to tackle organised crime.
Barry Galvin said it was his opinion that laws similar to those introduced to tackle subversive elements during the Troubles were needed to fight organised crime, including legislation that would “bring in a regime whereby the gardaí can adequately address this by belief evidence similar to what is in the Offences Against the State Act”.
“There’s a variety of things that need to be done. Firstly, I would be very disappointed at the lack of action over a number of years in relation to enabling an Garda Síochána to do their duty properly; lack of resources, lack of motivation in terms of obstructing them, lack of legal progress to make them efficient and effective,” Mr Galvin told RTÉ News.
“On certain reliable evidence, made reliable by statute, and found to be reliable by the trial court, the onus of proof shifts onto the defendant, and if he can’t satisfy the court, in this case that he’s not a member of an organised crime gang, or wasn’t involved in a particular organised crime series of offences, then he is convicted and there would be fairly salutary sentences.
“So it’s based on the belief of a chief superintendent, the belief has to be creditable, there has to be reasonable grounds for the belief, the belief has to be assessed by the courts to be creditable, and normally there has to be corroborating evidence. If that situation is there, if the defendant either declines to give evidence or his evidence doesn’t traverse the belief evidence, he’s convicted and sentenced,” he said.
He said that there was “no alternative” to such measures if the current problems with organised crime are to be tackled.
Mr Galvin also said there are issues with resources and morale that is hampering the force’s ability to address the issue.
“Up to this time there has been a series of events which have clearly undermined the ability of the gardaí in a similar way. They have been under-resourced, they haven’t been getting the proper legislation, and they have been subjected to a regime of literally unfounded attack,” he said.
By way of example, Mr Galvin criticised the measures for handling informants’ information introduced on foot of recommendations arising from the Morris Tribunal.
“Every good investigating policeman has an informant, and the informant will deal with that policeman. It is completely anathema to that informant that anyone else would know that he is informing and completely anathema that his information would be recorded anywhere, his identity would be recorded anywhere. His security and his confidence is one to one with his contact,” Mr Galvin said.
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