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Sunday 17 December 2017

Ballymun task force wrong way to tackle gangs, says Minister

20 Aug 2017; Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty, T.D. places a wreath at the grave of Michael Collins. Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith remembered at 95th annual Collins Griffith Commemoration at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. Picture: Carolilne Quinn
20 Aug 2017; Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty, T.D. places a wreath at the grave of Michael Collins. Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith remembered at 95th annual Collins Griffith Commemoration at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. Picture: Carolilne Quinn

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty has criticised calls for the establishment of a new task force for Ballymun on the back of last week's double murder.

Gangland crime should be tackled through greater resources being given to An Garda Siochana and not the establishment of task forces for the sake of it, said Ms Doherty.

The call for a specific fund for Ballymun was made by Noel Rock, Ms Doherty's party colleague and Dublin West TD.

The north inner city received €1.6m in response to murders connected to the Kinahan-Hutch feud, and Finglas and Ballymun should be treated in the same fashion, said Mr Rock.

"It's only fair that areas such as Finglas and Ballymun receive similar funding in an effort to combat crime and the causes of crime," he said.

However, speaking to reporters in Glasnevin yesterday, Ms Doherty - who grew up close to the murder scene - rejected the proposal.

"It's unfortunate we have gone back to that stereotypical image. There's been a huge investment in Ballymun. Actually, it has one of the highest reducing unemployment rates in the country at the moment," the Meath East TD said.

"I think it's really unfortunate that the gentleman obviously knew he had a warning against his life and the way events transpired. There's a mother of six children dead, there's a young man dead.

deprivation

"Gangland criminals need to be addressed, and I don't think putting task forces in specific townlands or areas will address that. I think more resources into An Garda Siochana will."

Ms Doherty said the inner city was about addressing social deprivation and a lack of housing, services sports and youths clubs.

"Ballymun has all of that. There is a tremendous pride among the people who live there," she said.

Ms Doherty made the remarks ahead of the 95th commemoration of Michael Collins at Glasnevin cemetery.

The annual event heard an oration by journalist and historian Stephen Collins.

Separately, Ms Doherty indicated that she will provide greater assistance to lone parents in the upcoming Budget.

She moved to temper expectations held by older people about the prospect of an increase in their pension.

"We have Christmas bonuses to consider, we have increases in pension payments to consider, but there are far more vulnerable people in Ireland today than our OAPs," she said.

"That's not to say they're not deserving, they absolutely are.

"But if you look at the poverty index, lone parents and children are probably at the biggest risk of poverty in this country. They need to be looked after."

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