Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Justice, Jim O’Callaghan has expressed his deep concern at reports that there are currently 21 vacancies in the Garda Emergency Response Unit.

With rising vacancies within the unit, gardaí say that they do not have the necessary equipment to deal with escalating gangland crime, contradicting the Fine Gael claim that they are pumping all necessary resources into tackling gangland violence.

Deputy O’Callaghan said: “The issues raised by the Garda Representative Association in relation to the ERU are very disturbing. We have been repeatedly assured by Minister Flanagan and the Taoiseach, as recently as last week, that all necessary resources are being made available to the Gardaí to deal with gangland crime.

“The Taoiseach stood in Drogheda assuring the people of the town and the media that he was going to “make Drogheda safe”. Three people have been killed in the town in the last six months. An innocent taximan was shot in the town a few weeks ago. Despite this, last week Gardaí in the town were waiting for hours for assistance from the ERU.

“Fine Gael has failed to recognise we are in the midst of an escalating national crisis on gangland crime. Gang related tensions have escalated, and the problem is not confined to specific areas but is touching most parts of the country. Our national elite response unit must be resourced to properly deal with this.”

“At the core of this problem has been Fine Gael’s lack of focus.  We need proper political leadership in the Department of Justice, and a Minister who is prepared to give officials and the Gardai the support they need to crush these gangs.  If given the opportunity, Fianna Fáil will provide that leadership.”