Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has ordered the elite ERU (Emergency Response Unit) into Drogheda as part of a crackdown on increasingly violent turf wars between feuding drug gangs.
He intends to hit the gangs hard, including stamping out even “low-level drug dealing” and will provide the town with a further 25 gardaí next month.
Mr Harris said gardaí in the town would also get support from other national units to end the feud, which has led to 74 tit-for-tat attacks since last July.
“If we have to use all the powers available to us we will,” the commissioner said.
Mr Harris also appealed for people in Drogheda to give the gardaí information or, if they wanted to remain anonymous, to contact Crimestoppers.
The GRA (Garda Representative Association) has called for all 28 garda divisions in the country to have their own ARUs (Armed Response Units), instead of the current six regional units, which are too geographically stretched.
Two ARUs cover the border between Donegal and Louth and rank and file gardaí have called for more in the region to combat the increasing threat of the New IRA.
Commissioner Harris said he planned to set up another ARU, to be based in Cavan, which was likely to be operational “by the tail end of the year.”
In response to GRA calls for better equipment, the country's most senior policeman said he would allocate €10m to update the garda fleet, enabling him to shortly purchase around 300 new vehicles.
The GRA also wants increased manpower. The commissioner readily admitted he “could always do with more".
But before that may become a reality, he said he would have to use the 15,000 gardaí at his disposal in the most effective way he can to “keep the public safe.”
At the GRA conference in Killarney, he revealed he'll restructure the force by reducing the current number of divisions and regions and aims to set up “more joint agency responses to resolve deep-seated crime and quality of life issues such as recidivism, child abuse and youth crime".
Mr Harris said garda units will be provided with 2,000 smartphones by the end of the year, which will give them instant access to a host of information on criminals and suspect vehicles.
“We are currently looking at how to best to distribute these throughout the country. Thousands more smartphones will then be provided in 2020,” Mr Harris said.