Return of gangland figure sparks major Garda alert

A LIMERICK gangland figure who sparked a major garda alert returned to the country last night following a holiday in Mexico.

The man was recently released after serving five and a half years in jail for threatening to kill the first cousin of Roy Collins who was murdered this day last year.

Extra armed gardaí are being deployed to Limerick following his recent release and over upcoming high-profile gangland trials, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy revealed yesterday.

Mr Murphy said he is sending back a full unit of the armed Emergency Response Unit (ERU) to the city with immediate effect.

In making his decision to send in the ERU, Mr Murphy said he had taken a lot of factors into consideration. “Right across the board, we consider it necessary now for a unit of the Emergency Response Unit to come in.”

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and Mr Murphy met with Steve Collins, Roy’s father, last week in Dublin.

The Collins family and others under threat have 24-hour, armed protection.

Mr Murphy, after meeting senior management in Limerick, said: “My people have given the minister and I a full briefing today and we will continue to assess the situation, not just here in Limerick but all over the country in relation to the threat against individuals.

“Based on what the assistant commissioner (Willie Keane) and the chief superintendent (David Sheahan) and the two superintendents (Frank O’Brien and Ann Marie McMahon) have said to me today, I have agreed to allocate the emergency response unit to Limerick for a period of time.

“We see difficult times in Limerick coming up. In the next few weeks there are high-profile trials going to take place and the Emergency Response Unit will be here working with the local gardaí to ensure crime, and particularly violent crime and shootings are prevented.

“Our focus is that the people of Limerick have a safe society.”

Roy Collins was shot dead after evidence by his cousin led to the conviction of the gang figure recently freed.

Mr Murphy said democracy and our criminal justice system can only work with people coming forward to give evidence. While he had the witness security programme in place, he said the quid pro quo for gardaí was to ensure to the best of their ability to reassure people in Limerick. “The regional support unit is out here, day in day out, and that is why I am sending in the emergency response unit.”

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