Fred Bassett’s Manifesto
Election: Saturday 8th Febuary 2020
A letter sent by GRA representative for the ERU, Ciarán O’Neill, to his superiors says there are 21 vacancies within the unit and that unarmed frontline gardaí will, at times, be left unprotected as a result.
It mentions a recent case in Louth where local officers targeting the violent Drogheda feud were allegedly waiting a number of hours for armed backup from the ERU.
The contents of the letter, which was detailed in full in the Irish Daily Star today, has been confirmed by the Irish Examiner.
The Louth divisional commander, Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan said he has never had any difficulty securing the services of the ERU for planned incidents, telling local radio that they would be there “at a moment’s notice”.
GRA HQ said the letter was internal correspondence and should not have been placed in the public domain and declined to comment in detail on its contents.
But it added:
“The GRA is seeking an urgent meeting with the Garda Commissioner regarding resourcing of Emergency Response Unit. We wish to discuss concerns raised in a letter from a local GRA representative to the Detective Superintendent in charge of the Unit.”
Antoinette Cunningham, deputy general secretary of the AGSI told RTÉ that they agreed with the “thrust” of the letter’s concerns.
She said her members in the ERU said they are concerned regarding their ability to respond appropriately to “spontaneous, urgent, hostile” incidents as opposed to planned operations.
But Chief Supt Mangan told LMFM: “I have never had any difficulty in securing the services of the ERU – they will be here at a moment’s notice for me, let it be 3 o’clock in the day or 3 o’clock in the morning – they have been here.”
Garda HQ confirmed they received correspondence from the GRA, but that, as it primarily referred to operational matters, it was inappropriate to make direct comment.
It added: “An Garda Síochána is satisfied that there is currently a specialist firearms response capability to any critical firearms incidents that may occur in the state.”
In relation to the murder of Drogheda teenager Keane Mulready-Woods, Chief Mangan said he suspected the 17-year-old was murdered in the town. He said the missing remains made it “very, very difficult” for Keane’s family who were trying to plan for a funeral.
Meanwhile, gardaí in Drogheda have been urged to exercise care after details emerged that a garda driving home was followed by suspected criminals.
Garda O’Neill’s letter sent on behalf of the ERU members to Detective Superintendent Alan McGovern of Garda Special Tactics and Operations Command (STOC).
“It is incumbent on me as their GRA representative to make representations regarding the reduction of resource allocation and the reduction of the number of armed patrols and at times the complete lack of a fully available covert emergency response capability to deal with any urgent issue that may arise that requires the services of the Emergency Response Unit,” the letter said.
“The decision to cut overtime means that this organisation, in my opinion, does not, at times, have the available resources to deal with a serious terrorist or serious firearms incident and as such will leave our unarmed colleagues on the frontline without adequate protection.”
The letter said there were 21 vacancies and that four ERU members were permanently allocated to protecting Commissioner Harris.
It said early last week members in Drogheda were left waiting for a number of hours for requested ERU assistance.
“This was due to the fact that only five members were available to deal with any incident,” the letter said.
It highlighted a lack of training, updated courses on first aid and out of date equipment, including bulletproof jackets more than 10 years old and a lack of covert bulletproof jackets.
Up to 40 of the main protagonists in the deadly Drogheda feud, including women and children, have “gone to ground” in recent days fearing that they will be shot or arrested.
The development comes as it has emerged that a high-level meeting involving senior officers from many of the Garda’s specialist units took place on Monday and a “strategy” for tackling the feuding gangs “head-on” was discussed.
Senior officers from the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) and the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) were in attendance and a new major clampdown on the feuding gangs is imminent, according to sources.
“The full power of the State is coming down on these gangs very shortly,” a senior source said last night.
While the vast majority of the feuding thugs in the Co Louth town are now on “self-imposed lockdown”, the Irish Independent has learned that a 35-year-old Dublin criminal, who is suspected of playing a key role in the murder of Keane Mulready-Woods (17), has been spotted walking the streets of the town “every third day or so”.
However, he is the exception.
“Virtually all of these criminals are now in hiding – they are terrified of being arrested and they are also very concerned that they will be shot.
“At times this week, some of the housing estates that they have terrorised for over two years now are like ghost towns.
“The atmosphere is very weird,” the senior source added.
Gardaí also believe that feud gangster Cornelius Price, whose compound in Gormanston, Co Meath, was raided a number of times last week, is currently based with some of his relatives in the English town of Rochdale after he left Ireland at the weekend to “escape the heat on him”.
The CAB previously carried out a major operation against Owen Maguire’s gang in April 2018, just three months before he was left paralysed after surviving a botched assassination attempt.
Searches took place in counties Dublin, Louth, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan and cars, watches and cash were seized.
Sources say that the bureau will now actively target the anti-Maguire faction who are the mob behind the gruesome and shocking murder of Keane, whose torso has not yet been recovered.
A 24-year-old Drogheda criminal, who is also suspected of active involvement in Keane’s murder, remains locked up in a prison isolation unit for his own safety after he was arrested for separate offences on Sunday night.
“Maybe jail is the best place for him – the majority of his associates are certainly not strutting around the town like they had been before now,” a source said.
There have been no arrests yet in the murder case, being led by Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan.
On Tuesday, he said the force’s elite Emergency Response Unit has never let him down and can be called in at a moment’s notice to assist local gardaí.
He appealed for anyone with any information about Keane’s last movements to come forward, saying those who don’t carry a huge responsibility.
Fred – no illegal drug hit for him these days. Today’s front page of the Irish Daily Mail is not a happy headline but it will be seen not alone in Ireland but throughout the EU and Brexit UK. Ireland’s Prime Minister looks to be in deep pain and thought as the Mail states that he took twelve seconds to answer a direct question in last night’s Leader’s Debate. It is shocking to hear, especially now, that Varadkar was a an illegal drugs user since he entered Office. We know he spent $1.8 million on PR to promote his own image and the pinky socks but I don’t think personally that Leo has a grasp as to how to lead a country. I will go one further, we have a scandal of a homeless crisis; we have scandal of a health crisis; we have housing estates that are now literally “No Go” areas because of young Thugs in Gangs terrorising the decent people who live in these estates. Ireland is in the middle of a Cocaine epidemic according to solicitor Sandra McAleer when she said this morning on radio that Cocaine is destroying families across the country. Cocaine is about violence and pure hardship for the addicted and their families also. Drogheda should not be under siege for this length of time if Commissioner Drew Harris is providing the proper facts. Why are there so many drug dealers on the streets of Drogheda and other towns free to openly deal and intimidate people? The Gardai also have a problem where people have information but are terrified to come forward because of fear of reprisals like having their homes burned out or worse, being shot. Crime is the number one topic along with homelessness and health in this Election. Last night I am sure Westminster and Boris and others were mesmerised when Varadar stated that he had taken illegal drugs. I am sure his fellow colleagues, especially in the medical profession, and the Blue Shirts are reeling at the prospects of this admission. To be continued……Fred