Belfast Telegraph

Rule of law has gone from the border region – Micheal Martin

The Fianna Fail leader claims the state has lost control of crime in the border region

Micheal Martin and Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Micheal Martin and Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Aine McMahon PA

The Government has lost control of law and order in the border region, Micheal Martin has claimed.

The Fianna Fail leader criticised the Government’s record in policing the border region following a series of violent attacks.

Last week, a Sinn Fein TD had his car burned out in Co Leitrim this week, while Emyvale Garda Station in Co Monaghan was subjected to an arson attack.

I have long asserted that the rule of law has gone from the border.. both sides of the border Micheal Martin

Last month, Kevin Lunney, a director of building products manufacturer Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH), was badly beaten after being abducted from outside his home in Co Fermanagh.

“I have long asserted that the rule of law has gone from the border.. both sides of the border.

“The state is not in control and hasn’t been in control for some time and criminality rages supreme,” Mr Martin told Leaders Questions in the Dail.

Mr Martin said, while more garda resources have been placed in the border region in the wake of the attacks, it should have been done sooner.

“The issue is a very, very serious one in terms of the challenge to the State with the border area under attack,” he said.

Mr Martin called for a new agency similar to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) to be set up to tackle crime in the border region.

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (right) and Chief Constable of the PSNI Simon Byrne speak to the media during the cross-border conference on organised crime at the Slieve Russell Hotel, Co Cavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

The CAB was set up in 1996 following the murder of crime journalist Veronica Guerin to focus on the illegally acquired assets of criminals involved in serious crime.

“A task force will not cut it.

“We need to have statutory underpinning to send the message, once and for all to these warlords; enough is enough and we’re not taking it anymore.

“We’re going to assert the state and the democratic law and order the state.

“It will assert its supremacy above and beyond anything else,” he said.

In response, Irish Premier Leo Varadkar condemned the threats made to directors of QIH and the violence perpetrated against Mr Lunney.

Mr Varadkar said the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is to meet with the QIH directors to discuss their concerns following the attacks and the recent threats on their lives.

Mr Varadkar defended policing in the border region and said an additional 100 gardai (Irish police officers) had been sent there in the past two years and armed Garda officers have been sent to Co Cavan.

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Narrow Water Point and Warrenpoint Port seen from from Flagstaff Viewpoint on the hills outside Newry where the Newry River flows out to Carlingford Lough, the UK and Republic of Ireland share a border through the lough (Liam McBurney/PA)

He said he would not rule out a statutory agency to tackle border crime as suggested by Mr Martin but that the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda in the Republic of Ireland will continue to collaborate.

“I’m not sure if a statutory agency is the best way for the Gardai and PSNI  to work together.

“An agency would take a long time to establish but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

“I think the best thing they can do is to work together in a practical way,” he said.

PA

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