More armed Gardaí to keep gangs off streets

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Limerick Garda Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche.  Photo: Liam Burke
Limerick Garda Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche.  Photo: Liam Burke

MORE armed Gardaí are to be deployed in Limerick to tackle any threat of a resurgence in organised crime.

Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche confirmed two additional Armed Support Units (ASU) will be deployed to Limerick in a few weeks to further compliment the two ASUs presently based here.

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This will bring the total number of armed gardai in the division to “approximately 70”, and will see an increase in local ASU personnel from “12 to 18 members”.

There are currently about “fifty” armed gardai in the Limerick Division, including a “significant” number attached to the local Special Detective Unit.

“We are about to launch a third and fourth armed unit in Limerick in the next few weeks. It’s the result of a long term plan. It takes between six to eight months to select and train gardai for the armed units. It’s a tough process,” Chief Supt Roche added.

Limerick also has two dedicated intelligence officers, attached to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), targeting assets purchased by individuals through the proceeds of crime.

Prior to the arrival of the ASU, formally the RSU (Regional Support Unit) and ERU (Emergency Response Unit), unformed Gardaí in Limerick received firearms training and were put to work on shifts, outside of normal working hours, to ensure there was an armed back-up provided in the event of a serious incident.

John Gilligan, who was Mayor of Limerick at the height of the city’s gangland feud,  is confident there will not be a return to the same level of violence as before – largely because of increased local garda resources.

He said that in the initial stages, Gardaí were completely under resourced when responding to the feud. Parts of the city were “lawless” and criminals “ruled the roost” prior to the deployment of a dedicated armed Garda unit.

“It was like something you’d see on television. There was one area in St Mary’s Park where they would drag a couch out of a house every weekend, sit on the couch, put on the ghetto blaster, light a fire in the middle of the road, and sell hash to people in cars passing up and down.”

“It was ridiculous,” he said.

Things changed for the better “when we got Gardaí who were armed the same as the people who were selling drugs”.

“You have to have a place where people feel safe. If you don’t, all you’re doing is wasting your time,” he added.

by David Raleigh

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