DEFENCE Minister Willie O’Dea has appealed to the public to help the gardaí put an end to gangland activity in Limerick following the murder of innocent businessman Roy Collins.
Mr O’Dea said he had been informed that gardaí investigating the shooting of Mr Collins — murdered in apparent payback for his family giving evidence against a local criminal — had been getting a good response to their appeal for information.
“I know that the gardaí are getting a lot of help from the public and I would take this opportunity to urge people to come forward if they have information. This is a horrendous crime. It’s a threat to the state,” he said.
The minister, however, dismissed calls made locally for the introduction of radical measures such as internment to take all gangland suspects off the streets without the usual need for watertight evidence to support arrest warrants.
But he said the cabinet’s approval of the Covert Surveillance Bill in recent days would have a radical impact on the way gardaí pursued criminals. The bill, when enacted into law, will allow the use of information gathered by telephone bugs and other listening devices to be used as evidence in court.
“The difficulty we have is the fear factor,” said Mr O’Dea. “Witnesses are in fear of their lives to come forward and give evidence against criminals. We will put them [the criminals] in a position where they are effectively convicting themselves.”
Speaking at the Easter Rising Commemorations in Dublin, Mr O’Dea said the cabinet was determined to push through the legislation after the murder last November of Shane Geoghegan, a victim of mistaken identity who was shot dead by criminals who thought he was a member of a rival gang.
“This bill has been done in record time,” the minister said. “I would hope to see it come before us and be passed in the next session of the Dáil.”
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