Tánaiste proposing update of electronic surveillance laws to combat organised crime

Frances Fitzerald has confirmed a number of new measures to tackle organised crime today

frances fitzgerald

Minister Frances Fitzgerald | Image: RollingNews.ie

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has notified Cabinet of her intention to update laws on the 'lawful interception of communications' and covert electronic surveillance.

The Tánaiste has announced a number of new measures to tackle organised crime.

The Cabinet has approved the drafting of legislation which will make it easier for the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) to seize criminal assets and money.

The Tánaiste is proposing reducing the threshold for cash seizures by CAB from €6,500 to €1,000.

Minister Fitzgerald also announced that the Bill will provide the CAB with administrative restraint allowing officers to immediatedly freeze - in certain cases - assets which are suspected to be the proceeds of crime.

Minister Fitzgerald also confirmed a special garda taskforce on crime, with extra powers to work with Revenue and Department of Special Protection officials. 

The taskforce will 'relentlessly [focus] on persons involved in gangland activity', the Justice Department says.

The Justice Minister is also planning "to enhance and update the legislative framework for the lawful interception of communications and for covert electronic surveillance" to combat threats from organised crime and terrorism.

The moves come amid efforts to tackle the Kinahan-Hutch feud in Dublin, which has claimed seven lives since last September.

Minister Fitzgerald told reporters outside the Dáil this morning that a zero-tolerance approach is needed to tackle gangland violence. 

"What we've seen in recent weeks in unprecedented ruthlessness from these gangs," she said.

"I'm discussing with colleagues this morning a series of measures to support the work of the Garda Síochána, including making it easier for gardaí to seize assets from criminals."

The Justice Minister is planning to meet with her colleagues from Spain, Netherlands and Belgium next week to discuss the 'transnational dimensions' to organised crime.

David Cullinane of Sinn Féin said the party would support any increase in resources to tackle gangland violence. 

He said "in your face policing", including surveillance, was needed to deal with criminals, but that internment was not the right solution.  

Meanwhile, a woman has appeared in court in connection with the murder of Gareth Hutch (35), who was gunned down outside his home in Dublin's north inner city last Tuesday.

Mary McDonnell (44) is being charged with withholding information that could have prevented the offence.

The crime carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison on conviction.

McDonnell, who lives at the same complex where the shooting took place, was remanded in custody for a week.