Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is sending 80% of new recruits to Dublin and Louth to reassure communities blighted by gang violence that An Garda Síochána is “the force of law and order”. He also told cocaine users they were funding gangs involved in “vicious feuds” seen in north and west Dublin and in Drogheda.
At the passing out of 201 new gardaí in Templemore College yesterday, Mr Harris said his decision to send almost 160 of the newly-trained members to Dublin and Louth was a “very deliberate” one.
“Visibility is very important in those communities, as is community policing. We want to be sure we are in those communities offering reassurance that we are the force of law and order and we’ve got a grip on that.
“We will see 128 new members go to Dublin, and a further 30 will go to Louth and these are areas where we want to concentrate our resources.”
There were three fatal shootings in a week across north Dublin, all the victims linked to a Finglas-based drug gang. Separate gang feuds in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, and in Drogheda have seen spiralling violence, including attempted murders, indiscriminate shootings and pipe bomb attacks.
Asked for his opinion on the increasing violence, Mr Harris said:
What it is, in effect, is turf wars between criminal groups and these have escalated in terms of their viciousness; very serious offences up to and including murder.
“Really, we want to take the ground away from gangland, where these gangs operate, and for the forces of law and order to prevail.”
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan welcomed the move. “This includes 28 to the division that includes Coolock, and 27 to the division that includes Blanchardstown.”
He said they would “help strengthen the Garda response to gang violence and increase public safety in their communities”.
Mr Harris also hit out at recreational cocaine users, saying: “There’s no such thing as recreational drug use. If you get engaged in the use of cocaine, you are supplying your money into criminal networks.
“If you purchase cocaine, you are purchasing misery elsewhere, either in Ireland or elsewhere in the world, so there is no such thing as cocaine that is ethically produced, it’s all on the back of violence and the blood spilt by other individuals.”
He said supplying that demand “creates the circumstances where we have these vicious feuds”.
His words follow comments from Michael O’Sullivan, director of EU drugs taskforce MAOC-N, that gun violence inflicted by “little generals” on Irish streets was directly linked to the booming cocaine trade.