Cross-border crime increasing as Brexit approaches - senior gardaí

Conference calls for extra armed response units to deal with growing gang activitiy

The superintendents’ conference is set to take place in Naas, Co Kildare. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

The superintendents’ conference is set to take place in Naas, Co Kildare. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Garda superintendents have noticed an increase in cross-border crime as Brexit approaches and are set to push for more highly trained armed gardaí to deal with the most serious crimes.

The Irish Times understands delegates at the Association of Garda Superintendents annual conference on Wednesday will also seek clarity around the severance package available for some older garda members to retire early.

Garda superintendent sources say a divisional policing model was already being trialled ahead of a nationwide roll out. The impact of those changes on the role of the superintendent was unclear and more clarity on that and on the severance package was required as a matter of urgency.

Other sources said they were concerned the severance package had been presented as being targeted at officers who were reluctant to embrace policing reform.

This, they said, may reflect poorly on personnel who had worked hard to modernise the Garda but now wanted to retire or move to a position in the private sector.

The superintendents’ conference is set to take place in Naas, Co Kildare. Unlike the annual delegate conferences held by the Garda Representative Association (GRA) and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (Agsi), debates at the superintendents’ conference are closed to the media.

However, Garda officers familiar with the agenda say the issues of cross-border crime and organised crime, especially the recovering drugs trade, will be discussed.

Last week the GRA said it wanted an Armed Support Unit (ASU) in each of the 28 Garda divisions across the country to be at the ready to provide armed back-up to unarmed gardaí on the front line when the need arose.

The Garda superintendents were also set to express their concern at the risks to unarmed uniformed gardaí posed by gangs.

They believe organised crime gangs involved in the drugs trade were more active in recent years as the disposable incomes that fund the drugs market have begun to increase again.

And they believe additional well-trained and equipped armed Garda teams were required to meet the growing threat posed by the gangs.

Last year president of the Association of Garda Superintendents Noel Cunningham expressed concern that more Garda personnel would be needed to police the borderlands after Brexit to combat dissident republicans, smuggling and other criminals.

Today delegates were expected to highlight an already noticeable increase in cross border crime and call for more gardaí to police the crime corridors in which that cross border criminality was taking place.

Since the superintendents first raised the need for more policing around the border last year, serious feuding has broken out in Drogheda, which is situated in the Garda’s northern region.

Mr Cunningham was due to address delegates this morning followed by Minister for State David Staunton, deputising for Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.

In the afternoon the one-day conference in Co Kildare was due to be addressed by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.