Number of organised crime inmates jumps by 10pc in three months
General view of entrance to Mountjoy prison, off North Circular road, Dublin
February 12 2021 04:44 PM
The numbers of organised crime gang members behind bars in prisons increased by more than 10pc to 183 in the last three and a half months.
According to new figures provided by the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, the prisoners were from 14 separate gangs serving sentences in the system.
The figure was up from 166 gang members behind bars at the end of October.
The increase follows recent Garda successes in prosecuting a number of Kinahan crime gang members in the courts.
Thirty nine of the 183 crime gang members are due for release this year and a spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said: “Approximately 50pc are due for release within the next three years.”
The 183 total excludes the numbers of subversive prisoners serving sentences at Portlaoise Prison.
There are around 30 Kinahan cartel members behind bars, including a nine-man Kinahan cartel hit team jailed for a total of 80 years for an attempt to murder Patsy Hutch.
The most recent Kinahan member convicted is hitman, Caolan Smyth (29) who was found guilty last month for a feud related attempted murder on James ‘Mago’ Gately (32) in May, 2017.
Gardai last month described Smyth’s conviction as “highly significant” and he is currently on remand in prison and is due to be sentenced next week.
Last Summer, Asst Garda Commissioner, John O’Driscoll said after jailing Kinahan gang members, that Gardai will not cease until the gang has been dismantled.
On the challenges posed by members of 14 separate gangs in prison, the IPS spokesman said: “In reality, rivalries and feuds which develop on the outside continue inside the prison. Prison management must ensure that the various factions are kept apart, and as far as possible, that members of criminal groups do not have influence over other inmates in the prisons or criminal activities outside.”
The IPS spokesman said the service “is committed to preventing identified members of criminal groups from conducting criminal activities while in custody and also to prevent them exerting inappropriate influence over other persons”.
He said: “For example, certain security initiatives have made it more difficult for prisoners to engage in illegal activities while in prison.
“These include initiatives such as the gathering and collating of intelligence information on members of criminal groups in custody, carrying out intelligence led operations, searches and preventing the flow of contraband in prisons.”
He said “in addition, there is a high level of contact maintained between the Prison Service and national, regional and local units within An Garda Síochána on a daily basis to discuss security issues including the operation of criminal gangs”.
In her written Dail reply to Fine Gael’s Bernard Durkan on the issue Minister McEntee said “measures taken on a continuous basis include regular targeted searching; placement in high security locations; close supervision of all visits including the use of screened visits and the barring of certain visitors; the use of CCTV, metal detectors and mobile phone detectors; and the examination and monitoring of mail and telephone calls.”
Deputy General Secretary with the Prisoner Officers’ Association (POA), Jim Mitchell said the increased number of affiliated gang members presents challenges to POA members.
“The good thing is that these people are now off the streets,” he said. “They have no ‘road to Damascus’ in prison. They don’t suddenly change. They try to exercise the same level of authority inside the prison as they do outside.”
Mr Mitchell added: “Gangs come and go but the gardaí and the Prison Service will always be here.”