Armed unit pulled back from Border duty after gang killings

Emergency Response Unit deployed in Louth after murder of Garda Tony Golden

Armed gardaí from the Emergency Response Unit on patrol in Dublin after the recent gangland murders. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Armed gardaí from the Emergency Response Unit on patrol in Dublin after the recent gangland murders. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Members of the Garda’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) deployed to the Border after the killing last year of Garda Tony Golden in Co Louth have been transferred to Dublin following the recent gangland murders.

The ERU’s redeployment will intensify questions around Garda resources, despite undertakings from the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to create a new 55-strong armed Garda unit, along with extra money for surveillance.

The transfer will be seen by the Government’s critics as proof the Garda is not sufficiently staffed to be able to combat increasingly active dissident republicans and other criminal gangs operating along the Border, and also deal with gangland criminals in Dublin and elsewhere.

The ERU was dispatched to the Border last October amid allegations the area was chronically under-policed after Garda Golden was shot dead while responding to a domestic disturbance in Omeath. His killing came less than two years after Det Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead during a robbery.

Since the ERU’s deployment four months ago, it has set up daily checkpoints and patrols in the Louth Garda division. Garda Golden was killed trying to help Siobhán Phillips who shared a house with her partner, dissident republican Adrian Crevan Mackin, who wounded Ms Phillips and then shot himself dead.

Strong criticism

Following Garda Golden’s death, there was strong criticism he had been sent on his own to a house known to be occupied by Mackin, who had been released on bail in January 2015 after he appeared before the Special Criminal Court on IRA membership charges.

News that the ERU members have been moved comes as the Garda prepares for the potentially flashpoint funerals of David Byrne (34) and Eddie Hutch (59).

Byrne was shot dead in the Regency Hotel in Dublin last Friday and Hutch was killed at his home in Dublin on Monday evening in apparent retaliation. Dates for the funerals have not yet been announced.

While Garda sources said it was unlikely trouble would break out or attacks would be carried out at the funerals by the rival gangs involved in the feuding, there is concern social gatherings around the funerals may be targeted.

Byrne was a member of the Spain-based drugs gang led by Dubliner Christy Kinahan. His murder at a boxing tournament weigh-in was seen as retaliation for the shooting dead of Dublin drug dealer and armed robber Gary Hutch (34) in southern Spain last September by the Kinahan gang.

The killing of Hutch’s uncle, Eddie Hutch, at his home on Poplar Row, north Dublin, on Monday night is believed to have been carried out by the Kinahan gang in revenge for the Regency Hotel attack.

Tax evasion charges

Meanwhile, the Special Criminal Court is expected to sentence leading republican Thomas “Slab” Murphy tomorrow following his recent conviction on tax evasion charges.

Sinn Féin’s attitude to the Special Criminal Court has been repeatedly targeted by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour.

Labour leader Joan Burton said Sinn Féin’s call to abolish the non-jury court showed its leader Gerry Adams did not understand the democratic underpinnings of the Irish State.

Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins said: “I think people are appalled and disgusted and I think it really shows them up for what they are and people are worried about it. They want kangaroo courts but they don’t want the Special Criminal Court.”