Crack unit’s frontline war on paramilitaries
TODAY the gardai bring us inside the war on gangland crime and IRA dissidents.
The Herald got an exclusive insight into the force’s preparations as they take on the gangs and bombmakers trying to plunge us back into the dark days of the Troubles.
The Emergency Response Unit has never been busier fighting crime now than since Republican dissidents were at the height of their power.
The highly-trained armed unit has been busting up counterfeiting rings, intercepting bombs destined for the North, foiling tiger raids and tackling rival gangs in Limerick and Dublin.
A leading member of the ERU has exclusively told the Herald that tactical teams are being routinely deployed right across the 26 counties in 2010.
An officer present at the ERU exercise said that it’s going through one of the toughest periods since its inception.
Many members we spoke to view their increased activity as a positive rather than a negative development stating that it is showing the public that the gardai are cracking down on crime.
The ERU has grown to become one of the busiest armed tactical teams in Europe and is held in high regard internationally.
The unit was forced to begin its highly dangerous missions in January on the streets of the capital after a spate of murders.
The unit has been operating in the Finglas area since the brutal murders of gang boss John Paul Joyce (31), gun for hire Brendan Molyneux (46) and innocent Paddy Mooney (58) at the start of the year.
The Herald accompanied one of the teams during a covert mission in April designed to quell gang tensions and reassure a worried public.
Their presence is to allow for a “cooling down” period.
“These operations are used to limit the movements of criminals and are designed to counteract gang activity in crime hotspots,” he said.
“We set up different checkpoints in the affected area, there is an element of surprise involved and the positioning of these checkpoint locations is based on real time and up to date intel’.
“The purpose of the exercise is to make it difficult for these gangs to operate, it also allows for a cooling down period.
“Our presence and the fact that we are carrying weapons can be a little intimidating but the reaction from the public has been largely positive.”
The ERU has also been deployed in Limerick since April 8 after Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy raised concerns over tensions which may have emerged in the city.
The unit has continued to tackle republican activity in the border area also and has made significant breakthroughs.
Previous operations have seen the ERU intercept bombs as big as the one used at Omagh, before they crossed the border.
It also dealt with another vehicle loaded with explosives at Dun Laoghaire which officers believe was destined for the Aintree Grand National.