Call for more garda resources as community reels from latest killing
The latest murder in the Hutch-Kinahan feud took place in broad daylight yesterday just several hundreds yards from a garda checkpoint.
And only a short walk from the Dublin flat complex where Gareth Hutch, a 35-year-old taxi driver, was gunned down lies an empty garda station that was once among the busiest in the capital.
The Fitzgibbon Street station was vacated for health and safety reasons in 2011, and the over 100 gardaí who were based there were transferred to nearby Mountjoy.
Five years after its temporary closure, however, locals are no clearer about when it will be re-opened.
Independent councillor Nial Ring said today that residents continue to living in fear despite government commitments to tackle gangland violence.
Mr Ring, who represents the north inner city ward, told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show that the local community wants to see all gardaí that were taken out of the area returned to the locality.
“People are genuinely scared,” he said.
“Within 100 yards of where [Gareth Hutch] was killed, there are two schools - a primary and secondary school. I fear those children will become desensitised.”
A stronger garda presence on the streets is “psychologically” important for people living at the epicentre of the escalating wave of violence, he added.
“This wouldn’t happen in Frances Fitzgerald constituency or Enda Kenny’s constituency, so why is it being allowed to happen in the north inner city?”
“We feel helpless. We feel let down.”
The scene of Gareth Hutch's murder on North Cumberland Street | Image: RollingNews.ie
Mr Ring said Gareth Hutch was a devoted father to his young son, who stayed with him four or five days a week.
Mr Hutch told him a day before the shooting that he was in fear for his life, the councillor said.
The deceased had also written to his social welfare officer about concerns over his personal safety.
In a letter seen by Newstalk, the father-of-one asked to be moved to a more secure flat in the Avondale House complex.
"I live on the first floor in the complex and there is a back balcony which is accessible from ground floor level and is also at a point in the complex which is not covered by CCTV,” he wrote.
"The fact that this black spot gives unrestricted access to my balcony is a cause of concern to me.
"The ideal situation would be that I can stay within the complex as I have many good friends and neighbours there… I understand that there may be some vacancies coming up in the complex and the flats involved are much safer.”
Garda recruitment and funding
Meanwhile, the Garda Representative Association has called on the government to accelerate recruitment and strength training for specialist units to tackle gun crime.
"There are 2,500 fewer gardaí since 2010 as a result of the recruitment freeze and through retirements, long term illness and incentivised career breaks," the association said.
“The recent gangland killings can be seen as being a direct result of under investment in An Garda Síochána over the last number of years.
"We want our members to work with local communities and combat these incidents before they happen but we simply don’t have enough officers on the ground to undertake the work in the comprehensive way we’d like to.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has indicated that he intends to meet Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan this evening to discuss policing resourcing in the wake of the shooting.
The Fine Gael leader said in the Dáil today that an international joint policing operation was needed to properly tackle the escalating violence.
“The state and the government is not going to lie down in the face of this intimidation,” he said.
Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, a TD for Dublin Central, earlier told Newstalk that all resources needed to tackle the cycle of murders will be made available.
Over 1,000 armed checkpoints have been set up since February, while €5 million in extra funding has already been allocated to gardaí dealing with the crisis, he said.
A 29-year-old man arrested in connection with the killing of Gareth Hutch is still being questioned.