Taoiseach Brian Cowen tonight vowed no stone would be left unturned in the hunt for the killers of rugby player Shane Geoghegan.
As the 28-year-old’s family held a private wake ahead of the funeral in Limerick tomorrow, Mr Cowen pledged the full resources of the State in the battle against the city’s criminal gangs.
Large numbers are expected to attend the Mass at St Joseph’s on O’Connell Street at 11am.
Mr Geoghegan was mistakenly gunned down by Limerick’s warring gangsters in the normally quiet Kilteragh area of the city on Sunday.
Following crunch talks with the Taoiseach and Justice Minister Dermot Ahern today, Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy pledged all garda resources would be brought to bear to catch the killers.
Mr Cowen told the Dáil: “No stone would be left unturned to bring to justice those who have perpetrated this callous crime and to ensure this house that in every way possible Government would provide whatever assistance it can to An Garda Siochana and we will rely on the advice and judgement of the Commissioner.”
The popular rugby captain was shot dead after leaving a friend’s house where he spent the evening watching Ireland’s match against Canada on television, live from nearby Thomond Park.
Shane Geoghegan’s shocked team-mates at Garryowen described him as an honest and popular player who had friends across generations.
Gardaí believe Mr Geoghegan was targeted by criminals who intended to kill one of their drug dealing rivals in the quiet Dooradoyle area of the city.
Forty members of the notorious Limerick crime gangs are in custody at present, including gangsters from the Dundon-McCarthy group and their rivals in the Keane-Callopy’s.
But Limerick’s independent Mayor John Gilligan warned more innocent people would lose their lives unless a dedicated gang-busting unit is set up to fight Limerick’s warring criminals.
“We asked for a dedicated corps, tasked to take on these gangs, catch them in the act and put them out of business,” Mr Gilligan said.
“What we got was a garda reaction group, who waited for them to do something and then they turn up later.
“Until the Minister for Justice actually starts listening to what we’re asking for, then unfortunately things like this are going to continue.
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy today said security measures to tackle the gangs were sufficient and he urged the public to do their bit to give information to gardaí.
“I am satisfied that all of that national support and increased focus on community policing are sufficient to deal with the issues in Limerick,” the Commissioner said.
Over the last 18 months the Emergency Response Unit, National Surveillance Unit, profilers from the Criminal Assets Bureau lately the Regional Support Unit have all maintained a daily presence in the city.
The Commissioner said 80 extra gardaí had been drafted into Limerick over the last year and a half and pledged the force would do all in its power to put Mr Geoghegan’s killers behind bars.
“We will be out there, we will be patrolling, we will be making the arrests, we will be doing the searches. We will be doing what we do best, policing the city,” he said.
“I have put in place the resources to do that.”
The Taoiseach today held a high-level meeting with the Garda Commissioner in his office as well as the Justice Minster, the Attorney General and senior officials.
It was the first time Mr Cowen has called in the Commissioner since he took office in May.
“The Taoiseach committed the full resources of the state to support the efforts of the Garda in Limerick,” a Government spokesman said.
Meanwhile, a book of condolence, opened at Limerick City Hall, has received hundreds of messages of support from a community shocked by Mr Geoghegan’s brutal killing.
The 'Limerick Leader' newspaper has also posted a special webpage with messages from people throughout Ireland and abroad.
A minute silence will be held prior to the international rugby game between Ireland and New Zealand at Croke Park on Saturday as a mark of respect, the IRFU said tonight.
A private wake was held at Mr Geoghegan’s family home throughout today in advance of the Funeral Mass tomorrow.
Eoghan Prendergast, Garryowen club secretary, said the family had been inundated with message of sympathy.
“There are messages of support coming in from all over the country,” Mr Prendergast said.
“The family are just devastated. They are a very private family.
“People are just stunned in Limerick at the minute.”
Garryowen club members will form a guard of honour for the Funeral Mass at St Joseph’s Church and IRFU President John Lyons will also attend.
Taoiseach’s aide de camp Commandant Michael Treacy will represent Mr Cowen.
The Government will be represented by Defence Minister and Limerick TD Willie O’Dea, while a regional assistant commissioner will represent gardaí.
The Requiem Mass will be followed by a burial service at St Mungret’s Cemetery.
Garryowen will also have a special Mass at their club house in Dooradoyle on Friday evening for Mr Geoghegan’s clubmates and friends.