Garda chief warns of threat posed by republicans

 

GARDA Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has said dissident republican groups were more likely than ever to attack Britain but that gardaí were working to foil any terrorist atrocity being planned or organised from the Republic.

He said although dissident republicans were not very significant in number, there were small groups organising in the Border regions, Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

Since the start of the year about 50 dissident suspects have been arrested by gardaí, with some 22 having appeared before the Special Criminal Court.

“That’s an indication of what we’re doing about [the threat] and it’s also an indication of the level of activity that’s ongoing by these small number of people,” Mr Murphy said.

While dissidents had not attacked the Garda or other agencies of the State, they were clearly trying to increase their capability to carry out attacks in the North and now in Britain.

He had consulted with the security forces in Britain in the past week and agreed with the upgrading by the authorities there of the threat of an imminent attack in Britain.

Last week the UK home office said the threat level posed by dissident republicans in Britain had been scaled up from “moderate” to “substantial”. This means an attack is a “strong possibility”.

Speaking at a function in Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, yesterday, Mr Murphy said dissident republicans had recently increased their activities.

“But commensurate with that is that the police forces of both jurisdictions have upped their activity. We’re getting results but of course they only have to get lucky once to make an impact. A bomb exploded in Newry some months ago and that’s the first bomb that exploded in the North since Omagh. That’s significant in itself. It’s significant in that it tells us they’re endeavouring to improve their capability all the time.”

When asked about the increased involvement of dissident republicans in supplying security on the doors of pubs and nightclubs, Mr Murphy said: “This is, of course, a concern to me. It’s our job to see what’s really going on. It’s our job to get the intelligence and my people are running operations in Dublin as we speak. Where there’s the possibility of profit there will always be people who will try and get in on the action. The job is for the forces of law and order to prevent that.”

He said in recent days gardaí had arrested suspected dissidents in Dublin and these had already appeared before the courts.

Mr Murphy made his comments in the wake of a number of incidents in Dublin involving criminals who would either be regarded as dissident republicans or as being closely aligned to them.

Gardaí believe a number of small groups, particularly in north and west Dublin, have been trying to extort money from drug dealers with threats of violence.

One group based in north Dublin are the chief suspects for the shooting dead of drug dealer Seán Winters in Portmarnock, north Dublin, earlier this month.

OLDER PEOPLE STRATEGY:  MAKING ELDERLY FEEL MORE SECURE

MINISTER FOR Justice Dermot Ahern has launched the Garda’s new Older People Strategy, which aims to make older people more secure and feel safer in their communities.

The strategy was unveiled at Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin, yesterday to coincide with positive ageing week.

Under the new scheme, all Garda members will receive training to instil in them the importance of engaging with older people in the areas they police.

Gardaí at local level will engage with statutory and non-statutory agencies to assess the needs and expectations of older people relating to policing.

Among a range of other initiatives, older people will also be encouraged to participate more fully in crime prevention projects such as Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch.

Deputy Garda Commissioner Nacie Rice has been appointed to lead the new programme for older people.