herald

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Elite gardai to patrol capital over festive season to prevent hit

Armed garda checkpoints
Armed garda checkpoints

The country's most elite garda unit will be patrolling the streets of the capital on Christmas Day to prevent any potential gangland shooting.

The Emergency Response Unit (ERU) will be on patrol across the city tomorrow following the latest Hutch/Kinahan feud related murder.

Concerns have been raised that both faction's involved in the bitter feud could attempt a hit on their rivals over the Christmas period.

Members of the heavily armed force were deployed in February following the murders of David Byrne (33) and Eddie Hutch Snr (59) in short succession.

An attachment to the Special Detective Unit (SDU), the ERU are the country's main response to serious armed incidents and terrorist threats.

"The ERU have been on patrol in the capital since February, and have continued to do so in the interim," a source said.

"However, given Thursday's murder the majority of units available will be focusing on keeping a lid on the feud, which unfortunately has reared its ugly head again. This results from the fear of an immediate response, potentially from either side," the source added.

Members of the ERU were on hand for the funeral of Eddie Hutch in February over fears that the service could be targeted. Specially trained marksmen kept watch on rooftops overhead while heavily armed members patrolled the surrounding streets.

It comes as almost 200 gardai are being moved to the SDU and the National Support Services (NSS) in a major move to boost the fight against organised crime.

This week, approximately 180 members of An Garda Siochana were informed that they were selected for the elite unit and other specialist teams.

A source said that the selection process for these units had been "ramped up" in the last 12 months in response to the "current climate".

"The force has made a massive effort to increase the man-power of the national services, and a lot of gardai have been moved to these units.

"They were this week informed of their selection, and will be allocated positions in the New Year.

"It is certainly a much needed boost for the SDU and NSS," the source said.

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