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'We will get these people behind bars': Varadkar commits to task forces for Drogheda and other areas

Leo Varadkar is in Drogheda this morning.

Image: Sam Boal

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR says the Fine Gael manifesto will contain a commitment to roll out another six or seven task forces similar to that launched in the north east inner city in Dublin three years ago.

The task force, launched in 2017 by Kenny, is a major initiative focused on the development of north-east inner city. It was rolled out following a spate of gangland shootings in the region.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said recently that the programme was set up in a “moment of darkness”, when the government and the community came together in the aftermath of a “truly extraordinary cycle of murder and violence”.

A recent progress report on the north east inner city task force launched last week, showed that in 2019, €6.5 million in funding allowed the programme help to make the area a safer, more attractive living and working environment for the community.

Speaking to LMFM this morning following the gruesome murder of 17-year-old Keane Mulready-Woods whose body was dismembered, Varadkar said a similar task force could help Drogheda and other areas of disadvantage around the country.

He said the promise would be contained in Fine Gael’s election manifesto which is due to be published next week. 

However, the Taoiseach was light on detail in relation to funding. Initial funding for the north east inner city task force was €1.6m. When asked by TheJournal.ie if he was committing to at least €20m for the establishment of more task forces Varadkar said the detail would be published in the manifesto.

008 Taoiseach Drogheda Source: Sam Boal

Speaking to reporters before he met the gardai, Varadkar said: “We’re in Drogheda today and first of all I’d like to express my revulsion and condemnation of the very serious crime that has taken place here and also to assure the people of Drogheda that the Government is 100% behind them, that we’re going to get these people behind bars, we’re going to make this town safe again,

“I’m here with the Minister of Justice (Charlie Flanagan) and Deputy (Fergus) O’Dowd and after this I’m going to go to the Garda station and get a briefing from the gardaí and find out from them if there’s anything else we can do, any more we can do, to support them in their efforts.

“I really want to say to people across the country, and also to people here in Drogheda, that crime doesn’t pay, that we will get these people behind bars and make this town safe again.

“And I really want to encourage anyone that has evidence or information to come forward, because to get people into the Special Criminal Court, to get them convicted, we need evidence, the gardaí need information, and people who bring that evidence forward or agree to become witnesses will be protected.”

Labour Senators Ged Nash and Aódhan Ó Riordáin have welcomed what they dubbed the “campaign u-turn” from Fine Gael on Mulvey-style commissions in Drogheda today.

They said:

“Today in Drogheda the Taoiseach said after the election he would like to pick six or seven locations where a Mulvey style task force could be rolled out.

“This u-turn from Fine Gael is welcome as we have been calling for this for over a year, and as recently as December in the Seanad, and despite multiple requests, the Minister for Justice failed to commit to it.

“What is needed now is the detail of what the Taoiseach will do, otherwise this just looks like a campaign stunt due to the failures of Fine Gael to take on drug-related crime and the causes of it.”

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock also welcomed the move from the Taoiseach stating he expects his constituency of Ballymun to be added to the list, stating he called for something similar back in 2017.

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