Justice | Organised crime
To ask the Minister for Justice the extent to which the ongoing battle against organised crime is set to continue, with particular reference to the need to remove the crime barons from society in Ireland and throughout Europe or elsewhere; if An Garda Síochána continues to have access to adequate resources to meet this challenge; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I can assure the Deputy that tackling organised crime activity is the overriding priority for An Garda Síochána and the Government.
I wish to acknowledge the superb and painstaking work of the Gardaí in harnessing an international coalition of support to tackle the criminality associated with a particular Organised Crime Group. The enforcement of sanctions demonstrates the tremendous value and power of international co-operation in tackling organised crime and the actions taken recently send a very clear message to those involved in the group, or associated with the group, that criminality will not go unnoticed or unpunished.
While we should not underestimate the difficulties which the Garda authorities face in tackling organised crime activity, we continue to see the significant results of their efforts in the arrests made and people being brought before the Courts, both here and in other jurisdictions, as well as the ongoing drugs and firearms seizures made.
An Garda Síochána tackles organised criminal activity through a range of targeted measures designed to disrupt and dismantle the operations of criminal organisations. To the greatest extent possible, these measures include the use of advanced analytical and intelligence methodologies.
The additional resources allocated to AGS in recent years have enabled the Garda Commissioner to assign extra resources to the specialist units involved in tackling organised crime, including the Armed Support Unit, Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).
An Garda Síochána uses multi-disciplinary approaches to ensure the activities of individuals and groups involved in criminal enterprise are effectively targeted. Such approaches include the use of money-laundering legislation and the powers available to CAB under the proceeds of crime legislation.
Other measures taken to tackle organised crime include the strengthening of legislation where required, the establishment of a second Special Criminal Court in 2016, and the establishment of Garda Armed Response Units in all Garda regions which are available to support all divisions countrywide.
The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) is having significant success in disrupting drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups. I am advised by the Garda authorities that in 2021, the GNDOCB seized almost €64 million worth of illicit drugs and around €6 million in cash, a significant increase from 2019, when there were over €21 million worth of illicit drugs and over €2.5m in cash seized.
The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) conducted a search operation in Counties Donegal, Limerick and Cork on Friday 14 October 2022 targeting a Limerick based Organised Crime Group (OCG). The operation was conducted by Bureau Officers, supported by the Southern Regional Armed Response Unit and Gardaí from Donegal and Limerick. The search operation marks a significant development in the overall CAB proceeds of crime investigation which will target assets including properties linked to this OCG. In addition, the CAB were successful in a recent application to the Courts to have a property effectively owned by a prominent OCG recognised as being the proceeds of crime.
I am also progressing the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill shortly, which will increase the maximum sentence for conspiracy to murder from ten years to life in prison. These new laws will ensure that An Garda Síochána and our Courts have the tools they need to take firm and decisive action to deal with our most serious criminals.
Justice Plan 2022 commits to working to break the link between gangs and the children they seek to recruit. In 2022, we will also progress draft legislation to outlaw the grooming of children into a life of crime. In parallel, we will continue to roll out a community intervention programme “Greentown” which seeks to break the link between children who are engaged or at risk of engaging with a criminal gang.
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