• JPC

Harris vows to contain threat as Conlon says Louth is like ‘Wild West’

The Garda Commissioner touched on issues affecting Louth during his visit to Dunleer on Friday to address the Joint Policing Committees.

Conlon Harris
Councillor Hugh Conlon and Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo Credit: Kathy Gilroy-Barry.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris says he is “expending considerable resources” in Louth to ensure that no town in the county, or elsewhere nationwide, will be lost to criminality.

Harris was speaking at a meeting of the combined Joint Policing Committees – Ardee, Dundalk and Drogheda – at The Grove in Dunleer on Friday afternoon where he gave a presentation on the restructuring of An Gard Siochana’s divisions around the country.

He made his remarks in response to Independent councillor Hugh Conlon, who queried whether it was Commissioner Harris’ opinion that Louth could follow suit of Limerick in seeing life restored to normality upon the end of a gangland feud.

“Is it your opinion that if given the manpower and the overtime hours that you can eventually restore our society to some form of normality as happened in Limerick?” Cllr Conlon asked.

“The Mid-Louth area along with Drogheda has in a short few years descended into a horrible cycle of murder and criminality in the main fuelled by the drugs trade and money laundering.

“Local people have likened the area, and this is no exaggeration, with the Wild West where the criminal has a swaggering disregard for the law,” the Dunleer-based representative said.

He made reference to the murder of Cameron Reilly in Dunleer in May 2018, and also the unrelated murders of Elzbieta Piotrowska in Ardee and Keith Brannigan in Clogherhead last year.  “Many people believe that this area and Drogheda has a reputation more notorious than that of Limerick City during its worst days of criminality.”

Cllr Conlon also referenced the spate of ATM raids which have blighted the north east of the country in the last 12 months. Friday’s meeting took place in The Grove in Dunleer, just metres away from the Bank of Ireland branch in the village which has been targeted by criminals twice in a matter of months.

Harris told the attendees, which included TDs Fergus O’Dowd, Ged Nash, Ruairi O Murchi and Imelda Munster, that An Garda Siochana were putting resources into battling serious crime in the region.

“I want to reassure you of our overall commitment to dealing with this particular problem. We have dedicated both local and national resources. We have greater visibility on the streets and a greater response to local issues, as well as the armed support unit, the national drugs and organised crime unit and the ERU.

“I have no intention of losing any town in Ireland to criminality,” he said. Harris said investment in resources allowed Garda agencies to eradicate underlying factors that see people engaging in the drug trade.

“I am expending very considerable resources in making sure we contain this threat.”

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