Delay in creating new armed garda unit to fight city gangs slated
A special Garda Armed Response Unit for Dublin must be urgently brought into service by the end of next month, said Fianna Fail Justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan.
The Dublin TD said there appeared to be "a significant delay" in establishing the heavily-armed unit to combat gangland gun crime.
The Government committed to setting up the unit earlier this year, but Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald told the Dail on Wednesday that "the recruitment process has not yet been completed" and that it was "hoped" the unit will be in place "later this year".
Deputy O'Callaghan said: "Some two months ago, we were assured by Government that the new Armed Regional Support Unit would be in place and operational by this month and would contribute to the armed policing response which is urgently required to tackle the challenges faced by gardai in the capital and surrounding area.
"While the work of the gardai is ongoing, the residents of Dublin must see the battle against these criminal gangs intensified, to prevent further attacks and put a halt to the cycle of revenge and retaliation.
"This unit, which was also sought by some members of the Garda Representative Association, if adequately resourced, could spearhead the fight against these crime gangs," he said.
"It is simply unacceptable that we have been forced to experience a delay of this length.
"The Government must consider the creation of this unit as a matter of urgency.
"As gun-related crime continues to escalate, there has never been a more critical need for this Government to ensure that this unit is fully operational in order to protect the people of Dublin," he said. He told the Herald last night he understood that a lot of gardai had applied to join the unit and there needs to be more urgency in establishing the unit.
"This has to be fast-tracked to give confidence to the people living in communities that the Government and Garda have action planned.
"It is important that there is a visible presence of gardai in these communities. Most communities hoped the unit would be up and running by now," he said.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice and Equality said last night: "An Garda Siochana is currently in the process of establishing the Armed Support Unit (ASU) for the Dublin Metropolitan Region and a selection process to fill the positions has commenced and remains ongoing.
"The Tanaiste is advised that the selection process will be completed in the next month or so with a view to the successful candidates commencing training in early September 2016.
"Pending the full establishment of the new unit, arrangements have been put in place so that the necessary armed support is being provided on an overtime basis."
Minister Fitzgerald said in the Dail this week that, at the request of the Garda Commissioner, the Government "moved decisively to strengthen Garda resources to deal with gang- related crime in the Dublin area".
The new unit will "enhance armed support capability in Dublin and to free up the resources of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU). The Dublin ASU will have a strength of 55 - five sergeants and 50 gardai.
"I am informed by the Commissioner that it is in the process of being set up and trained as a matter of priority," she said.