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Plan to disband special organised crime task force reversed after garda protests

The special Crime Task Force was created by DOCB following the Regency Hotel attack in 2016.

A garda detective on duty during the Hutch/Kinahan feud.
A garda detective on duty during the Hutch/Kinahan feud.
Image: RollingNews.ie

A DECISION BY garda management to disband a specialist task force, set up to deal with the Hutch/Kinahan feud, has been reversed after protests by senior investigators.

The Special Crime Task Force, which is a part of the national Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB), was told it is to be stood down. 

Multiple sources have told The Journal that the reason given by senior Garda management was that the officers were needed to fill the gap in manpower across Dublin.

The unit, numbering upwards of 10 gardaí and three sergeants, was created immediately after the Regency Hotel attack in February, 2016.

This incident was seen as the catalyst for the beginning of a spree of murders and incidents associated with the Hutch/Kinahan feud. 

A gang of gunmen, allegedly members of a Hutch aligned group murdered David Byrne, shot dead by a man dressed in fake garda tactical gear. The intended target Daniel Kinahan escaped unharmed.  

There has been an estimated 18 murders in the feud while gardaí from DOCB, including from the special crime task force, have stopped more than 50 murder attempts, according to the Force. 

Sources have said that the unit’s work, which included undercover operations, was directly related to fighting Irish organised crime in the State but also members of gangs based outside of the country. 

A source, with direct knowledge of the situation, said: “These gardaí have been involved in high end work that resulted in dozens of arrests over the last five years, they have seized millions of euro worth of drugs and have also been directly involved in stopping gangland assassinations. 

“They have been trained to an high level – there has been a huge investment in those skills. 

“They were told they were being sent back to regular policing duties because, since the reopening of Dublin, there has been a lot of people calling for extra gardaí.

“This was a decision being taken by people who do not understand this unit’s work and do not understand the level they are playing at – this fiasco has very badly affected morale in DOCB and is hugely counter productive,” the source explained. 

It is understood that senior officials in the Garda Representative Association had met with senior garda management in the last 24 hours to protest about the situation following appeals for help from investigators. 

In a significant development, around lunchtime today, the gardaí in question were told they are no longer returning to regular policing duties and that the decision to disband the unit was being reversed.

“This was a crazy decision – it was being taken at a time when the problem of organised crime is getting worse rather than better. 

“The Hutch and Kinahan feud is not solved, in fact a senior player in the Hutch side is due out of prison.

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“The fact is there are upwards of five organised crime gang feuds in Dublin city where there have been murders and any reasonable assessment on probability would say that murders will happen again.

“The big issue here is that these members, were assigned on a temporary basis in 2016 and were never officially appointed. That needs to be dealt with now to ensure the unit is not under threat of disbandment again,” the source added. 

The GRA, when contacted, said it would not be commenting on the issue.

The Garda Press Office also refused to comment on “operational deployments” but added: “An Garda Síochána is satisfied that sufficient resources are available in the Dublin Region supported by National and Specialist units to respond to current policing issues.”

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