AGSI conference: ‘Huge success’ in fight against organised crime following Regency Hotel attack

Gardaí have been “very successful” in tackling organised crime following the gangland murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel, the head of the new Policing Authority has said.

AGSI conference: ‘Huge success’ in fight against organised crime following Regency Hotel attack

Josephine Feehily also said she was eager to push the importance of visible policing in rural and urban communities when the authority conducts its first public meeting with garda commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan later this month.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, Ms Feehily said that these public meetings, which are broadcast, would bring a “rigour and persistence” to the accountability of the gardaí that had not been there before.

She said this was the “soft power” the authority had over the commissioner in terms of accountability, but said she and board members had found her open so far.

She told delegates that if a police boss did not co-operate, the authority did have the “nuclear option” of requesting the justice minister to issue instructions to the commissioner.

The authority’s first private meeting with the commissioner was held last February shortly after the Regency Hotel military-style assault, which reignited a violent feud between the Kinahan and the Hutch crime gangs.

This sparked a double revenge attack, on Edward Hutch in Dublin’s north inner city three days later and Noel Duggan last month.

“We had a meeting with the commissioner and her senior team on that [organised crime] in February,” said Ms Feehily.

“This is an extraordinarily difficult job. I think the gardaí are very competent; they know the actors. You’ve seen the successes they’ve had when they deployed against those figures.

“There’s been a very active period since the Regency in terms of arrests and successes and so on. I think they know their job in relation to organised crime and they know what they need to do,” she said.

She accepted there had been some criticism of gardaí over organised crime, including the high number of unsolved murders.

“I think those are areas, when we have a body of data, that we would certainly be asking the commissioner some questions about, but there’s no getting away from the fact that in the last couple of months they’ve been very successful and shown their professionalism and their competence and I’d like to acknowledge that, I really do, and complement them.”

Ms Feehily said that the authority’s first public meeting with the commissioner would centre around community policing and the importance of garda visibility in rural and urban areas.

“Community confidence is enhanced by visibility,” she said.

Delegates bakcking the Executive on a montion. Pic: Paul Mealey
Delegates bakcking the Executive on a montion. Pic: Paul Mealey

She [the commissioner] has set out objectives in her own policing plan about community policing, we will ask her about what steps she is taking to achieve those.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Garda Inspectorate Bob Olson said that it was awaiting the response from the garda commissioner to its Changing Policing report last December, which criticised the force’s culture and structure, and argued that 1,500 gardaí could be freed from administrative work to the frontline.

The chief inspector said that the commissioner had written her report and sent it to the Department of Justice.

“I am anxious to look at it,” he said.

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