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Gardai want their Uzis back to tackle gangland crime

Gardai want their Uzis back to tackle gangland crime

The President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), Dermot O’Brien, has called for officers to be reissued Uzi submachine guns to tackle gangland crime.

O'Brien claimed that An Garda Síóchána is under-resourced and said he wants his members "[to be] protected when they go out there".

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, Mr O'Brien called for the return of high-powered machine guns and the regional support unit in the Dublin Metropolitan area.

"The RSU is a regional support unit, they are a constantly armed unit, they're around 24/7," he said.

"They are ready to respond to incidents like this.

"We are also looking for the immediate introduction of the MP7 submachine gun.

"And the return of the Uzi until the MP7 is introduced," he continued.

"That was taken away in 2012 and hasn't been replaced.

"The MP7 would be better for protection and accuracy," he added.

Mr O'Brien spoke as he said An Garda Siochána are relying on staff to do over-time following Friday's shooting at the Regency Hotel, and they shouldn't be treated the same as other groups in the public sector.

Mr O'Brien contradicted Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's comments and said the gardai do not have enough resources.

He said they are now seeking additional resources, including extra dedicated recruitment into special units to deal with organised crime.

"Nobody else in Ireland has to wear [bullet-proof vests], we have to be treated different to other public sectors," he said.

"I want to make sure my members are protected when they go out there.

"Over-time is being thrown at this investigation because we don't have enough resources.

"I keep coming back to the fact that we don't have resources," he repeated.

"We have a two-tier pay system, bringing in young gardai on €23,000, it's unfair to put these people out there."

Asked if he was disagreeing with the Justice Minister's statement that there is enough resources, Mr O'Brien said: "What I'm saying is we don't have enough people.

"If we had enough people, we would have the people there rather than be doing over-time."

The GRA President's comments come as Minister Fitzgerald is set to meet the Garda Commissioner and senior officers today to discuss the sudden escalation in violence in Dublin following two murders within the past three days.

David Byrne (34) was shot dead in the foyer of the northside hotel where a weigh-in for a boxing competition was taking place.

Two more men were left with injuries, while dozens of innocent families and children were forced to flee the venue.

Just three days later, Eddie Hutch Senior (59) was shot dead in his home last night in what is believed to be a retaliation attack for Friday's gun rampage.