Gardai seize 3,200 weapons in five years
DETECTIVES tackling gangland crime have seized 3,200 weapons since 2005, new figures reveal.
The crackdown on the illegal importation of firearms is part of Operation Anvil, the garda response to the growing problem of gangland activity.
The gun culture in Ireland has been spiralling out of control since the end of the 90s.
There were just three gun murders in 1998 compared with 19 already this year, including 16 gangland killings. Since the beginning of 1998, there have been 203 gun deaths in Ireland.
"Since the commencement of Operation Anvil in excess of 1,400 firearms have been recovered in Dublin, with a further 1,800 seized outside Dublin up to the end of August, 2010," said Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.
"The Organised Crime Unit, within the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations, in particular, is committed to tackling the issue of organised crime, including the illegal importation of firearms.
"An Garda Siochana will continue to develop and implement strategies to dismantle and disrupt criminal networks, utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methods to facilitate targeted operations to enable early intervention and prevention of such crimes.
"There are currently a number of intelligence-led operations focusing on organised crime groups in the Greater Dublin area and regional cities.
"A key part of these operations is a focus on stemming the supply of firearms to such groups. As a direct result of these operations, a number of individuals are before the courts charged with serious offences concerning the sale and supply of firearms."
Just 25 of 203 gun killings in a 12-year period have resulted in convictions.
Mr Ahern introduced tough new anti-gang laws in the summer of 2009 but just eight people have appeared in front of a judge charged in relation to membership of an illegal gang.
Labour TD Joe Costello criticised Government policy which he believes is not alleviating the problem of gun crime.
"The shockingly low conviction rate is a matter of huge concern," he said. "Those who order or carry out these murders know that they have only around a one-in-eight chance of ever being convicted."