Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Brother of Veronica Guerin furious at Irish jail security

The brother of slain journalist Veronica Guerin has hit out at the Irish prison system, repeatedly describing it as "a joke".

Jimmy Guerin has criticised the security failures that are allowing prisons communicate with the outside world.

The comments came as gardai attempted to build a new case against the only man convicted in connection with his sister's 1996 murder.

It is believed that Brian Meehan who is serving a life sentence is the ringleader behind a massive importation of drugs and ammunition which was uncovered by detectives on Tuesday.

Investigations by Dutch police, gardai and the PSNI suggest that Meehan ordered the largest gangland shipment of guns in the history of the State from the security of his maximum security prison cell.

The news prompted Mr Guerin to remark: "The prison service in our country at the moment is a joke.

"It's a joke when people can be brought in mobile phones and they can supply drugs to other prisoners."

And he added: "You may rest assured that (Patrick) 'Dutchy' Holland (former member of Gilligan's gang recently imprisoned in Britain) doesn't have the same access to phones, people and visitors as the likes of John Gilligan and Brian Meehan and these people have."

Following a four-month long international operation, officers north and south of the border intercepted a massive arsenal of 41 guns and €4m worth of heroin on Tuesday.

Meehan who is locked up on the E1 landing of Portlaoise Prison is believed to have masterminded the shipment and it is understood that gardai searched his cell since the haul.

Brian Meehan -- the former right-hand man of crime boss John Gilligan -- is also under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Gilligan's gang has diminished in significance since he and Meehan were jailed, but gardai believe the former sidekick is trying to re-establish a new criminal empire in Dublin.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has admitted the prison service was fighting a "constant battle" to stop the flow of contraband into prisons.

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