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Garda Operations.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 17 April 2008

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Questions (47, 48)

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

38 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress with regard to the establishment of the Garda organised crime unit; the personnel and resources that will be made available to the unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14050/08]

View answer

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

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda authorities established an Organised Crime Unit on a temporary basis in November 2005 to target organised criminal gangs. The Garda Commissioner has now established the Unit on a permanent basis with a complement of seventy. A review of its activities and strength is ongoing.

Since its establishment, the Organised Crime Unit has pro-actively targeted criminal gangs engaged in diverse types of criminality, which transcend the organisational and divisional boundaries of An Garda Síochána.

The main forms of criminality being committed by these gangs include armed robberies, hi-jacking of valuable loads and commodities, warehouse robberies / burglaries, ‘tiger' kidnappings, cash-in-transit robberies, bank robberies involving firearms and the importation of large quantities of controlled drugs.

Through focused, intelligence-led operations, success has been achieved and the activities of many of the organised crime groups have been disrupted. A number of persons suspected of involvement in this type of criminality have been apprehended on serious charges with many before the courts facing lengthy sentences.

The Organised Crime Unit has taken the lead role in targeting organised criminal gangs in conjunction with the assistance of other national units. The unit's primary functions are as follows:

To identify organised crime groups that operate within the State through increased profiling, intelligence gathering, overt and covert surveillance and threat assessments.

To develop intelligence on highly organised and professional groups of criminals involved in serious crime and whose operations transcend district / divisional and regional boundaries.

To develop intelligence and information supplied by confidential sources on major targeted criminals.

To liaise with the National Criminal Intelligence Unit in developing intelligence and information from all sources in relation to serious and organised criminal groups.

The Unit will continue to work closely with the other specialist units, including the Garda National Drugs Unit, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Special Detective Unit and the Emergency Response Unit, in targeting those suspected of involvement in organised criminal activity.

Jack Wall

Question:

39 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when it is intended to increase the Garda search powers, promised in the Programme for Government, in relation to drug crime along the lines of the new random breath-testing model for drink driving to allow random searches at particular, places, times and events where senior Gardaí believe there is a risk of drugs being present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14079/08]

View answer

As I indicated in my reply to Parliamentary Question 9121/08 on 4th March 2008, any significant extension of Garda search powers beyond those already available in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996 gives rise to consideration of highly sensitive issues, including ones of Constitutional importance. In this regard I have in mind, for example, Article 40.3 (personal rights) and 40.5 (inviolability of a dwelling). My aim is to ensure in so far as possible that any new powers will be capable of withstanding Constitutional scrutiny. Accordingly I am unable to say at this stage when proposals will be available.

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