Criminal gangs face tough new measures

NEW legislation is to be introduced to tackle gang lords, much to the relief of the authorities charged with combating crime in the Mid West.

In recent days, concern was expressed in the Dail and Limerick County Council about an upsurge in crime activities in both city and county.

It was revealed at a meeting of the Joint Policing Committee of the council that county towns such as Newcastlewest have experienced an increase in burglaries, assaults and property damage, while it was also disclosed that five cars had been burnt out in the city suburb of Castletroy.

Newly elected chairman of the Committee Liam Galvin, said: “Stopping crime must be top of our list of priorities.

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“Without the garda presence seen on the street crime will continue”.

 Supt. Gerry Mahon responded: “A number of individuals have been targeted across the county on the same scale as in Newcastlewest.

“Vigilance of the public is key and they need to pick up the phone”.

He added that despite difficulties regarding the embargo on the public service, no garda station would be closed and that resources available would be deployed where most needed, including in Bruff and Newcastlewest.

The issue of crime in the county has also reached the Dail, where Martin Ferris TD, stated that a family in the Abbeyfeale area had been living in fear since the arrival of a new family from Limerick city to the area.

 The North Kerry representative said that over the past 12 months there had been a serious escalation in criminal behaviour including arson attacks, violence, vandalism and intimidation.

Now it has come to light that members of criminal gangs are to face secret detention hearings with penalties of up to life imprisonment for gang leadership under the new legislation.

The laws will also grant more power to gardai whose opinion on the existence of criminal gangs may be submitted as evidence, while detention periods will be extended from 48 hours to seven days with judges holding the right to extend these stays.

Publishing the Bill, Minister Ahern said that the legislation was groundbreaking and that a situation where citizens were living in fear of crime gangs would not be tolerated.

The legislation will be introduced to the Dail on this Friday, and Minister Ahern intends on having it completed on Friday, July 10.