Dublin armed patrols to continue in fight against gangland violence
Armed patrols in Dublin are set to continue as the authorities attempt to curb gangland violence.
Officers are to roll out a new armed support unit within weeks and additional resources are to be pumped into the regional armed support services, senior Garda officials have said.
However, they have insisted they will not become a routinely armed force, like the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) across the border.
The new 55-strong armed support unit will combat the threat from terrorism and serious organised crime in Dublin.
Plans for the elite unit were accelerated when a gangland feud - known as the Kinahan-Hutch feud - erupted in the city.
To date, 11 people have been shot dead as part of the feud; two in Spain, one in Meath and eight in Dublin.
Since the escalation of the feud 12 months ago - when gunmen stormed a boxing match weigh-in at the Regency Hotel in north Dublin - police have launched more than 22,000 armed checkpoints and 2,000 armed patrols across the capital.
"That resulted in the saving of lives. It resulted in us taking to ground and not allowing the people that want to cause havoc in our communities, not giving them free rein to move around our communities. That work has been of enormous benefit," said Deputy Commissioner John Twomey.
He added: "That work will continue into 2017. We will also introduce the National Firearms Command and additional resources throughout the country to our regional armed support services."
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said the force is determined to "dismantle, disrupt and bring to justice all organised crime gangs".
"That takes a lot of time, effort and persistent determination.
"The unfortunate fact is individuals who are determined on retribution will continue that determination as well.
"We have to be very mindful of the threat that poses.
"That is why last December we set up the armed support unit. By the end of March this year we hope to have National Firearms Command in place.
"That doesn't mean we are going to become an armed police force. That means actually we are being realistic in terms of meeting head-on the threats that are there," she said.
The commissioner added that work will continue with Spanish police who last year assisted investigations into the Kinahan-Hutch feud.
Officers said they wanted to reassure the public - a year on from the murder of David Byrne in the Regency Hotel - that the police service is successfully tackling organised crime.
Gardai said in the last year they have seized more than 450 firearms, over two million euro in cash, 64 million euro worth of drugs, 93 high-value cars, two million euro in taxes and almost four million euro has been frozen in bank accounts.