Gardai's anti-gangland Dublin unit responding to three incidents a day
The dedicated Garda Armed Support Unit (ASU), deployed in response to the deadly gangland feud in the capital, is responding to almost three serious incidents a day.
The 55-strong unit, launched by Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald in December, was set up to patrol the streets of Dublin after the Hutch/Kinahan feud claimed 11 lives in just 15 months.
Shortly after it was launched, the feud's latest victim - Noel Kirwan - was murdered in west Dublin.
Ms Fitzgerald yesterday revealed that in a three-month period, the ASU - which operates on a 24/7 basis - was called out to 248 serious incidents.
These were not exclusively linked to the ongoing feud, but included serious crimes involving firearms, or gardai intercepting criminals in the process of committing a serious crime.
Speaking at the annual Association of Garda Superintendent's conference in Naas, Co Kildare, Ms Fitzgerald said the introduction of a number of garda units has led to a reduction in crime.
"The dedicated Armed Support Unit for the Dublin Metropolitan Region [DMR] now operates on a 24/7 basis, providing appropriate armed support as required," Ms Fitzgerald said.
"The unit has been involved in a number of successes and associated with a total of 248 serious incidents in a three-month period.
"A new Garda special crime task force in the DMR, under the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, has been established to augment the response to organised crime at a local level through concentrated policing.
"This multi-agency approach to targeting the proceeds of crime is underpinned by new legislation I enacted last summer.
"All of this has led to a reduction in crime and increased public safety," she added.
The Tanaiste also told more than 60 senior officers present that they have "redoubled" their efforts in the face of very serious threats.
"So, as criticism is sometimes warranted, acknowledgement is required too," she said.
"Constant criticism erodes confidence and energy.
"I want to say thank you for those efforts."
Speaking to reporters at the conference, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey welcomed the roll-out of the ASU.
"Certainly, we are very happy with the work it has done so far. 248 incidents is quite a considerable amount of incidents," Mr Twomey said.
"In the context of lives being saved and communities being made safer, I think it has worked very well so far.
"In the region of 25 lives have been saved directly by the intervention of the Armed Support Unit."