Cleary father criticises response to gun crime


The father of Donna Cleary, who was murdered in Coolock in 2006, said today authorities have done nothing to tackle criminals since his daughter’s death despite being told at the time it was a “watershed”.

Ms Cleary, a 22-year-old mother of one, died after a gunman opened fire on a house party at Adare Green, Coolock, on March 5th, 2006. The incident happened after a group of men was turned away from the party but returned to the house and fired indiscriminately at it.

The man who fired the shot that killed Ms Cleary, Dwayne Foster (24), died of a methadone overdose in Garda custody, days after the incident.

Speaking in the wake of the murder of Shane Geoghegan in Limerick last weekend, Ms Cleary’s father Peter said “jumping into the Dáil roaring and screaming” would not solve the problem of gun crime.

“If innocent people can’t go out and enjoy themselves this country is in a sorry state. It’s either that or the Government get off their arses and do something about it,” he said during an interview on RTÉ radio this afternoon.

“When it happened to Donna, we were told ‘watershed’. All hell broke loose. Nothing has happened. It’s the same thing in the Dáil. They’ll all jump up roar and scream, but what’s the Government going to do? Nothing.

Mr Cleary said it was widely known who had killed his daughter. “Everybody knew the four people who were there involved in it. Everybody on the streets knew who they were and I said, ‘right, we’ll get our day in court’.

“But then, for the DPP, after all the evidence to throw it out? I mean even if they weren’t too sure, why didn’t they let the case go to court and let a jury sort it out at least we would have got our day in court?”

He said if the Government “had done their job right” his daughter would not have died “because there were three bench warrants out for one of them and there was a bench warrant out for the other.

“If they had have been served the whole incident would have never occurred.”

He said since his daughter’s murder, five more innocent people had died at the hands of criminals.

“Here we are five more murders, innocent people and we’re back to square one and nothing is happening. Do we wait until tomorrow until someone else gets shot?”

Yesterday, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said the proposed legislation on covert surveillance due before the Dáil shortly would help in the fight against gangland crime.

Mr Murphy also insisted the level of gun crime in Limerick has fallen over the past year and garda numbers in the city were increasing.

In an interview on RTE’s Marian Finucaneprogramme, Mr Murphy said he was “glad to see” that new legislation is going to go through the Dail in relation to surveillance”.

The new legislation will put surveillance work on a statutory footing, allowing any evidence gathered through surveillance to be admissible in court, he said.

He insisted the number of gardai patrolling the streets of Limerick were higher than ever before. As a result, drug detections were up and gun crime was down by 60 per cent in the city over the past year.

Fine Gael crime spokesman Charlie Flanagan said today the party would put a “comprehensive set of crime fighting proposals” before the Dáil this week.

“Over the last five years Ireland’s crime problem has grown progressively more serious, yet the criminal justice system is in many respects a shambles,” said Mr Flanagan.

“Of the 127 gangland killings that have taken place since 1998, 113 cases have resulted in no conviction. And drugs continue to flood into the country, providing a lucrative source of income for criminal gangs.”

Mr Flanagan said the package of measures would:

  • Address the 30,000 outstanding bench warrants, and the thousands of criminals still at large;
  • Launch a co-ordinated approach to tackling organised criminal gangs;
  • Give the Garda and Customs & Excise the resources they need to close the myriad loopholes at ports, small airports and along the coast;
  • Allow video evidence to be admissible in Court;
  • Move to enforce mandatory minimum sentencing in Court cases;
  • Protect the identity of witnesses at identification parades;
  • Establish the Judicial Sentencing Commission;
  • Reverse cuts to the Director of Public Prosecutions;
  • Provide every Garda with access to secure digital radio;
  • Immediately move to set up a national DNA database;
  • Expand and enhance the Garda Emergency Response Unit and Criminal Assets Bureau.