Agency calls for garda task force

JUSTICE Minister Michael McDowell was urged yesterday to set up a special garda task force in Limerick to tackle the city’s growing crime problem.

The agency which is spearheading the civic pride advertising campaign “I Am From Limerick” believes a special task force must be deployed full-time to sort out this problem.

“The situation in Limerick is unique and I believe that Mr McDowell must make a special case and ensure a garda task force is set up immediately,” Limerick Co-ordination Office chairwoman Kay McGuinness said.

However, a garda spokesman ruled out setting up a special task force to tackle the gang warfare in Limerick, like the one that was set up to target the notorious Dublin criminal Martin Cahill.

Garda Superintendent John Farrelly said the new Garda National Support Services have superseded task forces. The support services include members of the National Surveillance Unit, the Serious Crime Squad and Criminal Assets Bureau, who have been sent to Limerick to help local gardaí, Supt Farrelly said.

Eighteen people were murdered in Limerick in the past year but this is not reflective of the exact level of crime on the streets, Ms McGuinness said.

“Limerick people are fed up with all the negative publicity that is being generated by a small group and I was glad to see them voicing their frustration on the national airwaves yesterday,” she said.

The high-profile advertising campaign was aimed at instilling a civic pride in the local people.

It featured famous people born in Limerick including: JP McManus, Peter Clohessy, Frank McCourt, Pat Cox and Vincent Browne. They all simply say “I am from Limerick”, with the Cranberries providing the backing music.

The advertisement ran in all local cinemas during Christmas and had a great impact on local youths, said Ms McGuinness. “We are also organising a schools competition to instil a civic pride in the local children,” she added.

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