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Justice minister 'fully understands' Collins family's emigration

Alan Shatter says “great progress” in tackling gangs in Limerick was not enough to allow Steve Collins to remain in Ireland.

Steve Collins with his wife Carmel and brother Stephen Jr (left) in 2009, attending a march against Limerick gangland crime. The family left Ireland yesterday.
Steve Collins with his wife Carmel and brother Stephen Jr (left) in 2009, attending a march against Limerick gangland crime. The family left Ireland yesterday.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE has said he fully understands the decision of the family of Limerick murder victim Roy Collins to leave the country, accepting that the work done to tackle gangs in the city was not enough to guarantee their safety.

It emerged yesterday that the Collins family, who had become outspoken critics of the Dundon-McCarthy gang in Limerick, had decided to leave the country fearing for their safety.

This morning Alan Shatter said Steve Collins, the father of Roy who was murdered in 2009, and his family had “stood by the institutions of this State and paid a dreadful price for the courage which they showed.

Shatter acknowledged that while Gardaí had made “great progress” in tackling the gang culture in the city, the Collins family had still needed “intensive Garda protection” to secure their safety.

“For some considerable time, we have been in contact with Mr Collins as to how the State could best assist him and his family,” the minister said.

“These discussions  culminated in Mr Collins deciding that the best hope for himself and his family to lead a better life is to move abroad.”

The minister said that while he would not give details as to the operations that had led to the Collins family leaving the country, the State had “offered, and is giving him, every assistance possible” in helping Steve Collins and his family to emigrate.

“Of course, I regret that Mr. Collins had to take this decision but I fully understand it and I am sure all right thinking people will wish him and his family well in their move.”

Roy Collins, then 34, had been shot dead at a casino in April 2009, apparently because members of his family had testified against Wayne Dundon during a trial in 2005.

The family had remained under 24-hour armed Garda protection since Roy’s murder.

The Irish Independent this morning reported that Steve Collins’ pub in Roxboro had been purchased by the Limerick Regeneration Agency in order to make it easier for the Collins family to leave the country.

Sun on Sunday crime reporter Paul Williams told yesterday’s Marian Finucane show on RTÉ Radio 1 that the Collins family were particularly saddened by their need to move abroad as it meant they would be unable to visit their son’s grave.

This morning the former mayor of Limerick John Gilligan, a friend of the Collins family, said he did not think the family would have been able to survive “either mentally or physically” having to remain under armed guard while living in Ireland.

Read: Steve Collins and family ‘couldn’t survive’ Limerick gang threat >

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Gavan Reilly

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