Hoade demands new, specialised Garda unit to tackle gangland killings

'Communities must not be terrorised by dissident and organised gangs' says county councillor

The advanced organisational capabilities of tightly organised, highly mobile gangs, and their "sheer brutality" demands a co-ordinated, concentrated, response by An Garda Síochána, which can only come by setting up Serious Organised Crime Unit within the force.

This is the view of Fianna Fáil Galway West candidate, Cllr Mary Hoade, who was reacting to the recent spate of gangland and Continuity IRA killings. She also said calls to abolish the Special Criminal Courts were "disturbing", and could not be countenanced in the light of the shootings in Dublin.

Cllr Hoade and her party are calling for the establishment of a new SOCU, within An Garda Síochána, to tackle organised, dissident, and gangland crime, whose remit would include co-operation with Interpol and other police agencies.

She rounded on the Fine Gael-Labour Government for its closure of Garda stations and cap on Garda numbers over the last five years. "This Government has seriously depleted the Garda force, to the point where routine surveillance and intelligence operations were no longer being carried out," she said. "The major gaps in the Garda ranks can no longer be ignored. A stronger, enlarged, force will have greater visibility on the streets and in communities as well as having the greater intelligence gathering capabilities."

Politicians have also seized on Sinn Féin's call to abolish the Special Criminal Court. Cllr Hoade described the party's stance on the court as "disturbing".

“We should not be trying to dismantle our legal infrastructure," she said. "We should be trying to make it more robust, to ensure that those responsible for these barbaric acts are put behind bars and that communities are not terrorised by dissident and organised gangs."

Cllr Hoade also said the killings "exposed a weakness in our criminal justice system" and illustrated that the "threat posed by these criminals cannot be underestimated". As a result, she said FF, if in power, would use the existing legislation, which it introduced in Government in 2009, to try such cases before the Special Criminal Court, as this would also address concerns over jury and witness intimidation.

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