Drug shipments ‘slipping the net’, says GRA president

Illicit drugs valued at €11 million seized by gardaí in the past month

Some of the largest drugs gangs in the State are “commodity brokers”who, not content with dealing in drugs, will also smuggle weapons and have increasingly turned to counterfeit or duty free cigarettes, interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan has said.

She revealed that in the past month alone, illicit drugs valued at €11 million had been seized by gardaí and that she and her senior officers planned a renewed focus on organised crime. She told the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) in Killarney, Co Kerry on Tuesday that the seizures of the past month have involved heroin, cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy.

“We’ve also seized a significant number of firearms and some very high calibre firearms. We are relentless in our pursuit of people who are trying to profit from drugs and organised crime.”

GRA president John Parker had earlier claimed some drugs shipments were “slipping the net”because Garda resources were so depleted at present, in terms of manpower and the Garda overtime needed for length anti-gangland surveillance operations.

However, Ms O'Sullivan said national units and gardaí at stations around the State were dedicated in their pursuit of organised crime. As well as the drugs seized this month, gardaí had also foiled serious robberies as they were underway in Gorey, Co Wexford, and Raheny, north Dublin, which she believed was typical of the commitment of members of the force around the State.

Ms O’Sullivan also said gardaí were determined to continued with the investigation into the shooting dead January 12 months ago of Garda Adrian Donohoe in Co Louth.

"We are very very determined that the people who murdered Detective Garda Donohoe will be pursued and will be apprehended. "We are having very good cooperation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and our colleagues in the US authorities and I am very confident that the people who murdered Detective Garda Donohoe will be brought to justice."

She said the search for two men missing presumed murdered in Co Meath was continuing and she was aware there were two families who were “very, very, concerned”.

She added while the GRA, and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) had supported her to become commissioner on a permanent footing, she was focused on running a police force that would support communities and tackle criminals. “The position of Commissioner will be advertised and will be open to a competition and we look forward to seeing what happens then,” she said.

Having sent surveys to all Garda members as a means of establishing their concerns and areas that needed improvement, Commissioner O’Sullivan said some 1,900 responses have already been received and more were continuing to arrive. “A number of issues have come up, some of which have been reflected in the motions here today. There are a number of items there, including the uniform, including the provision of training courses that we will be reviewing and looking at in the immediate future.”

Commenting on remarks yesterday by the trial judge at the Anglo case, Commissioner O’Sullivan said she was pleased to hear the comments of Judge Martin Nolan relating to the Garda’s work on the case.

"The Anglo investigation was a very complex, complicated investigation," she said. "I understand that the judge today recognised the excellent professional work of members of An Garda Síochána. White collar crime is something that we are also determined to tackle and we are also reviewing the resources that we have employed on that."

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times