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Frances Fitzgerald says gardaí will 'go after drug dealers who flaunt their assets'

The Tánaiste also said she was “shocked” by a recent claim the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan met PAC chair in a car park.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

FRANCES FITZGERALD HAS said the government will provide the money needed to crack down on gangland crime following a number of murders in recent months.

The Tánaiste and Justice Minister said her department is working with gardaí and other groups to tackle the situation.

Fitzgerald told Today with Seán O’Rourke tens of millions of euro will likely be needed to provide extra resources, saying: “We will have to provide for that.”

The Tánaiste noted there are both local and international elements to tackling criminals such as drug dealers.

“You also have to go after these people who flaunt the assets from their criminal activity in terms of drug dealing.

I know how upsetting it is for local communities to see drug dealers flaunting assets. What role model is that for young men or young women, if they see people getting cash easily?

Fitzgerald said the international effort to crack down on these criminals was “enormous” and “constant”, noting: “Members of various gangs have served time” in countries such as Spain and the Netherlands.

Yesterday Fitzgerald said the government would bring in new laws to give gardaí the power to seize more assets and to engage in further electronic surveillance.

Under the plans, the threshold for seizing assets believed to be the proceeds of crime will be lowered from €6,500 to just €1,000. Asset-freezing legislation used by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) will also be strengthened so that the threshold is reduced from €13,000 to €5,000.

Fitzgerald defended CAB’s work, saying it has been “a huge success” in the last 20 years and copied internationally.

Garda Commissioners

When asked if she had confidence in Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan following on from questions raced in relation to the O’Higgins report, Fitzgerald gave a definitive “Yes”.

Several opposition TDs have said O’Sullivan should resign after allegations surfaced that she advised her legal team to challenge the integrity, motivation and credibility of whistleblower Maurice McCabe. The commissioner has denied the claims.

Fitzgerald said cultural change is needed within An Garda Síochána in relation to how whistleblowers are treated, adding that she believes this change is happening.

‘Shocked’

O’Rourke asked the Tánaiste about a claim by former Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John McGuinness that the then Garda Commissioner met him in a car park to talk about Sergeant McCabe ahead of his appearance before the committee.

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week programme, McGuinness said the meeting was at the request of Callinan, who also chose the location of a Bewley’s car park on the Naas Road.

McGuinness said that he believes the intention of the meeting was to raise doubts about the reliability of McCabe. The Fianna Fáil TD has defended his decision to not make the information public until now.

Fitzgerald said she was “shocked” by the allegation and would have preferred if the information was made available to PAC or the commission of investigation.

“We’ve only heard one side of the story,” she added.

Read: Tough new laws will target drug dealers’ cash and allow for closer electronic surveillance

Read: PAC chairman reveals secret Bewley’s car park meeting with Garda commissioner

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Órla Ryan

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