Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (23)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

20 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to tackle the growing problem and increasing menace of organised crime; if he proposes to take steps to interrupt the supply of weapons to such groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2513/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

I have been informed by the Garda Síochána that its strategy to tackle organised crime involves the utilisation of specialised national units dedicated to the investigation-detection of such types of crime. These units are the national bureau of criminal investigation, the Garda national drugs unit, the Garda bureau of fraud investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda national immigration bureau, all of which operate under the control and direction of an assistant commissioner in charge of national support services.

These units investigate every aspect of organised crime and in conjunction with the special detective unit are constantly involved in operations to interrupt the flow of firearms to criminal groupings. On this latter issue, I should also add that the Minister is currently undertaking a review of firearms control policy with the intention of introducing legislation in this area. The security of weapons held legitimately by individuals or dealers will be central to this review.

The Garda Síochána in general, and specifically all national units, works in common cause in the investigation of serious and organised crime in accordance with the strategic goals of the Garda Síochána. Legislative measures taken by the Government in recent years, backed up by significant law enforcement measures, have significantly altered the environment within which organised criminal groups operate in Ireland. The targeting of serious and organised crime will continue to be a priority and will be undertaken by the national support services targeting areas of criminality, individuals and groups operating nationally.

In my address of 9 December 2003 to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality Defence and Women's Rights I addressed in some detail, with particular reference to the activities of criminal gangs, the measures I intend to bring forward to enhance the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences. My address in this respect is available on the website of the Houses of the Oireachtas atwww.irlgov.ie/oireachtas but a copy will, of course, be made available to the Deputy if he so wishes. I intend to provide for those measures which require legislative provision in the criminal justice Bill, which I expect to publish during the current session.

I assure the Deputy that the my commitment to dealing with organised crime is unwavering and I am constantly evaluating our response to this problem. In this context, the Minister will take whatever measures are necessary to deal with this menace.