We've been here before. In the wake of Veronica Guerin's and Jerry McCabe's deaths Governments moved quickly to introduce new legislation to help Gardai deal with criminal/terrorist organisations. Governments like to be seen "doing something". It's likely that the current Government will move to do something following last night's brutal murder of a Garda. So, what should they do?
Well, the Gardai already know a great deal about the structure of organised crime in Ireland. Just last November the Garda Commissioner spoke to the Oireachtas Justice Committee. He stated that there were about 25 organised crime gangs (OCG's) in Ireland. Each OCG typically had between 6 and 12 leading members - 300 leading gang members in Ireland. We're not overwhelmed with serious criminals in Ireland but they seem to have the run of the place.
I think there's a few things which can and should be done:-
-The Government should legislate to introduce 30 day detention for those suspected of engaging in organised criminal activity. Taking those people off the streets for a significant period of time would give Gardai the time and space to investigate their activities and might encourage those with informaiton to speak to Gardai. We have plenty of empty army barracks througout the country. We should put the space to good use.
-Focus should be placed on the "white collar" crooks who provide support services to the OCG's - accountants and lawyers etc. I don't recall anyone being convicted for aiding and abetting OCG's despite the fact that the OCG's could not function without them. Anti-Money Laundering legislation currently on the statute books should be reviewed and amended if necessary.
-Search warrant legislation should be amended to allow Gardai follow leads generated during one search without them having to go back to the Courts for another search warrant i.e. search warrants should be person specific rather than place specific.
-The government should allocate some of the capital budget to developing the Gardai's IT resources. Over the coming days the Govt will be attacked for cutting Gardai numbers and closing Garda Stations. They should not be distracted by that. Instead, they should urgently review how the NYPD use technology to fight crime and move quickly to adopt the same practices to Ireland.
FG is traditionally seen as the Law and Order Party. The next few weeks and months will confirm if that's a myth or not.
Callinan: 25 organised crime gangs in country | Irish Examiner