Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (44)

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

36 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps being taken to reduce the access to and use by criminals of firearms, in view of the fact that the number of murders involving the use of such weapons has increased from four in 1998 to 21 in 2003; the steps he intends to take to ensure that those using such weapons are brought to justice in view of the fact that proceedings have been commenced in respect of only four of the murders in which firearms were used in 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2432/04]

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

I assure the Deputy that I share his concern in relation to the issue of firearms becoming available to criminals. I have made inquiries with the Garda authorities who have informed me that any action taken against organised criminal groups who habitually use firearms in the course of their criminal activities is focused through intelligence-led operations.

This approach allows Garda management to utilise local divisional resources, along with specialised units, to maximum effect. I have discussed this matter previously with the Garda Commissioner and I am confident that every effort is made by the Garda Síochána to bring those engaged in crime to justice and that appropriate action is taken where sufficient evidence is available.

My Department is currently reviewing the firearms control policy with the intention of updating the legislation in this area. The security of weapons held legitimately by individuals or dealers from robbery by criminals will be central to this review.