Garda interventions have saved 25 lives in the last 12 months, including as a result of the ASU and other units.
The ASU was launched in mid-December last year as a specialist response to firearms incidents. It performs overt policing in areas affected by the Kinahan-Hutch feud.
This includes the north inner city, the base of the Hutch criminal grouping, and the south inner city and Crumlin and Drimnagh areas, the base of Kinahan cartel.
Addressing the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the “evil scourge” of gangs is being met head on and that Operation Hybrid is tackling the feud.
She said more than 11,000 lines of inquiry have been conducted and over 25,000 high-visibility checkpoints implemented under the operation.
Ms Fitzgerald also indicated she was unhappy with the pace of reform being led by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
She said that while the commission on policing, which is being set up by the Government, would examine every aspect of policing, planned reforms must accelerate.
“I want to make clear, however, that it is the Government’s clear expectation that the reform programme currently under way in the commissioner’s modernisation and renewal programme continues and preferably at a faster pace,” said Ms Fitzgerald.
Commenting on the ASU, deputy commissioner for operations John Twomey said the force was very happy with its work: “248 incidents is quite a considerable amount of incidents. In the context of lives being saved and communities being made safer, I think it has worked very well so far.”
He said that some 25 lives had been saved in the last year through the interventions of the ASU and other units that preceded its establishment.
Elsewhere in her speech, Ms Fitzgerald said the breath test issue appeared to raise “potentially serious ethical and cultural issues” for the force.
“This is not about blame. It is though, about responsibility,” she said, adding: “I don’t need to tell you, as managers in An Garda Síochána, that supervisors and managers are responsible for what goes on on their watch. We need to find out what happened, why it happened, and make sure it never happens again. As superintendents, you have a clear role to play in this.”