Ireland's Gangs 'Rival Mafia'

A Fine Gael spokesman has said Ireland's level of gang activity could rival that of the Italian Mafia.

The opposition Justice spokesman, Charles Flannigan, said recent Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures showing an 87.5% hike in murders was the "bloody legacy of Fianna Fáil’s failure to tackle gangland crime"

Mr Flannigan said: "Under Fianna Fáil, Ireland has witnessed the rise of a gangland culture which now rivals Italy's cosa nostra. We now have two States: the majority of law-abiding citizens, and a sub-culture where life is worthless and murders are committed at a whim."

Mr Flannigan called the Government's Justice Minister Dermot Ahern a "disappointment" and said the recent gangland and surveillance legislation should have been introduced years ago.

Mr Flannigan's comments come as the CSO published its crime figures for the second quarter period of 2009.

However, the CSO document states that for the 12-month period ending in the second quarter of 2009, there were 58 murder offences recorded, compared with 63 in the corresponding period ending in quarter two of 2008, a decrease of 7.9%.

The statistics also showed that burglaries had risen by 6.7% and a slight decrease in sexual offences from 345 to 340 on last year's period.

However, Mr Flannigan maintained that he was very concerned over the lack of resources available to the Gardaí, and the "draconian" cuts in Garda overtime.

"Robberies are also on the rise. Intelligence-led policing is the only way to tackle criminal gangs which are intent on robbing cash machines.

"The six recent ATM robberies were clearly well-planned in advance and carried out with relative ease," he said.

The comments come as Dermot Ahern today launched a consultation discussion document entitled 'Crime Prevention and Community Safety' as part of the White Paper on Crime process.

The discussion document invites views as to how well existing crime prevention measures are working and asks what scope there is for their further development.

Announcing its publication, Minister Ahern said: "I would encourage all members of the public as well as community groups and others concerned with criminal justice to provide feedback on the questions raised in this discussion paper.

"I have put fighting crime at all levels at the top of my agenda since taking office and will continue to do so.

"We now have new and ground-breaking legislation dealing with surveillance of criminals, handgun control and prosecuting those who direct organised crime."


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