herald

Sunday 11 December 2016

Over 200 new garda vehicles set to target 'motorway gangs'

CRIME

Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Minister Frances Fitzgerald

A NEW garda "motorway patrol" consisting of high-powered vehicles is to be brought on stream by the end of the year as part of a multi-million euro plan set to be announced today.

The Government is finally responding to the worsening crime epidemic by signing off on the immediate purchase of over 200 high-visibility new vehicles, the Herald has learned.

The fleet, which will be announced today by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, will be used to target criminal gangs suspected of using the country's motorway network to carry out burglaries and other crimes.

A significant number of the vehicles will be provided to rural communities, which are struggling to cope with a recent spate in criminal activity.

Such is the level of fear spreading through towns and villages, leading members of the farming community say landowners will go to whatever lengths necessary to defend their homes.

Homeowners have reported sleeping with firearms beside their beds, while many country communities say they have lost faith in the ability of gardai to protect them.

But as part of a package of long-awaited measures due to be announced in the coming days, the Department of Justice has shored up additional cash for more than 200 vehicles.

Sources say the garda fleet will consist of high-powered Audi vehicles, motorbikes, paddy wagons and BMWs for undercover gardai.

It's believed that more than €5m has been approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the significant purchase.

policing

"The vehicles will be on the road by the end of the year and will be used for motorway and rural policing," a source told the Herald.

The purchase has been agreed between Ms Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan and will ensure the vehicles are on the road by the end of the year.

The new vehicles are separate to the 370-strong fleet that was made active in 2015. Some €1.75m was also set aside for the installation of new infra-red technology on garda aircraft, while the recruitment of over 600 new gardai was announced in last week's Budget.

A core group of up to 10 family- based mobs are involved in the crime wave that has targeted vulnerable rural homes, and used the country's motorway system to make rapid getaways.

The gangs, who use high-powered cars that often speed away from garda vehicles, are mostly Dublin-based and are made up of Traveller or Romanian criminals.

Most are based in Tallaght but some also have addresses in other parts of the capital, including Rathfarnham, Dun Laoghaire and Shankill. More than 300 criminals are involved.

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