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Commissioner to send 25 new recruits to Drogheda in crackdown on gang feud

The Commissioner said he could always do with more resources but his responsibility is to use the budget he is given effectively.

Image: Valerie O'Sullivan

GARDA COMMISSIONER DREW Harris has said 25 new recruits from the training college in Templemore will be sent to Drogheda in June as part of a crackdown on the gang feud which has escalated in recent weeks.

There have been 74 feud incidents since June last year and in the last week there have been five petrol bomb attacks. A man was also shot last Thursday afternoon.

Earlier today the Commissioner met with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan about the escalating situation in the town. He told reporters at the Garda Representative Association conference in Killarney, Co Kerry, that 25 new recruits will be sent to Drogheda in June as part of the resourcing plan to help tackle the feud.

Harris said the Emergency Response Unit is already there to provide armed support and there is an ongoing operation to target the activities of these gangs, including their low-level drug dealing. 

“People have been charged with serious criminality, other individuals are reported to the Director of Public Prosecutions, while other files are being prepared for the director as well.

“So there has been an emphasis on prosecution, but again I would ask the community in Drogheda to support us and provide any information they can, either to ourselves or to Crimestoppers,” he said.

“The route into this is to dismantle these criminal gangs and if we have to use all the powers available to us we will do that.”

Over the course of the day speakers at the conference have been critical of what they claim is a deficiency in resources in the organisation.

When pushed on whether or not he has enough resources, Harris said:

The thing about that question is, yes, you could always do with more. But my responsibility is; I have €1.76 billion for the organisation, I have 15,000 members plus over 2,000 staff. The challenge for me is, against the policing plan, how I use them most effectively to keep people safe.

“And that’s about preventing serious crime and not allowing organised crime gangs to run amok. So that’s one of the big priorities for us.

But we have many other priorities; the security of the State, roads policing, crimes against the vulnerable. And that’s what I mean when I say prioritisation; on any given day a lot of demand comes on the organisation and what we have to be as an organisation is adapt to that and learn things are not going to be constant for us.

“We’re to have to be a little bit more agile in how we use our resources and adapt.”

Harris answered a number of questions from garda members in a closed session this evening. The conference continues tomorrow. 

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