Fianna Fáil to make crime a central issue in next election campaign

Minister says Garda adequately resourced to fight crime amid fallout from latest murder

Gardaí at the scene of a fatal shooting at Bray Boxing Club in  Co Wicklow on Tuesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw.

Gardaí at the scene of a fatal shooting at Bray Boxing Club in Co Wicklow on Tuesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw.

 

Fianna Fáil is preparing to increase pressure on the Government on the issue of crime, with the party preparing to make it central to the next general election campaign.

In the wake of Tuesday’s shooting of three people, with one man killed, in Bray, Co Wicklow, party figures say they will seek to make crime, from burglaries to organised crime killings, central to political debate.

Jim O’Callaghan, the party’s justice spokesman, said he will be pressuring the Government on urban and rural crime in the Dáil.

Some Government sources have expressed surprise that Fianna Fáil, in particular, has not made more of an issue of crime but party sources say they will now seek to emulate their “zero tolerance” stance of the 1990s.

During the rainbow coalition of Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left in the mid 1990s, Fianna Fáil advocated the so-called “zero tolerance” policy on crime from the opposition benches. It saw then justice spokesman John O’Donoghue aggressively pursue the government on issues such as organised crime.

‘Turning point’

One party figure said a similar approach will now be adopted, adding that the Regency Hotel shootings proved to be a “turning point” in the 2016 election campaign. It was argued that crime will be as important in the next election

“Barbarism cannot be allowed to continue,” the source said.

Mr O’Callaghan, a TD for Dublin Bay South, said “crime levels and the protection of the public from violent attacks and burglaries are major issues for all sections of society”.

“The Government’s record on these issues has been poor, as has been its record in implementing real reform in the garda. The public expects and is entitled to see greater political emphasis on these issues. Instead it sees an inactive government that is prepared to tolerate continuing levels of serious crime.”

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said An Garda Síochána is adequately resourced to fight crime.

A spokesman said Mr Flanagan “strongly condemned” the early morning attack in Bray.

“Gardaí will vigorously pursue the investigation of this shooting and, as always, do their utmost to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the Minister said. “The Government remains committed to ensuring An Garda Síochána continues to have the resources required to tackle this, and all forms of criminality, in our State.”