RECENT garda operations in Kilrush have created a sense of “paranoia” among a criminal element in the town.
Garda Superintendent Seamus Nolan outlined this view at Wednesday morning’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting in Kilrush, the day after 11 people were arrested in the town as part of an investigation into unlawful money lending.
The investigation, which has been ongoing for several months, is focused on people suspected to be engaged in unlicensed money lending.
The searches, which commenced at 7am on Tuesday morning, were carried out at a number of premises in Kilrush, including private and business premises and involved up to 100 gardaí, including the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), Regional Support Unit, special detective units from Galway, the National Criminal Intelligence Unit, as well as officials from Revenue, Social Welfare and Clare County Council.
Five men, aged between 18 and 55 years and six females, aged between 20 and 49, were arrested and detained at various garda stations in Clare, Limerick and Galway, under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. Three of the females arrested were released on Tuesday night.
“I don’t want to go into detail on yesterday’s [Tuesday] operation but we’re happy with what we did. We’re targeting individuals who are causing anti-social behaviour on whatever scale. We’re not talking about the smaller scale here,” Superintendent Nolan told the JPC meeting.
“In relation to the ongoing operation, I’m happy to say that when there is any issue that comes to our attention, we will divert the resources. Again, we have to prioritise. Something like yesterday [Tuesday] doesn’t come cheaply as regards resources and manpower,” he added.
He added Operation Luxor, a co-ordinated operation between the Garda National Drugs Unit and officers from Kilrush investigating drug-dealing, is ongoing.
“We are putting a lot of significance on the operation that went on earlier in the year, which is not completed yet and is still ongoing. That was the drugs initiative that we call Operation Luxor,” Superintendent Nolan explained.
“That was a targeted operation where we had undercover gardaí from the Garda National Drugs Unit down here. We targeted a number of individuals and we prosecuted those people. That has created a sense of paranoia amongst them, which suits our purpose. Some of them are afraid to do too much,” the superintendent said.
He said there were 28 drug-related detections in Kilrush last year.
“That figure rose to 40 this year but that’s primarily because of the operation that ran throughout the first part of the year. Drugs, by their nature, are always detected. If a drugs matter is reported; normally when it is recorded, it is going to be detected. That skews the figures in some ways,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, instances of intimidation in John Paul Estate were also discussed at Wednesday’s meeting.
“I put that on the agenda because I have been approached by a number of families in the estate, who are citing intimidation by certain individuals within the estate. It’s something that can be monitored on an ongoing basis,” Kilrush town clerk John Corry said.
“Had we a serious assault there in the last week?” Councillor Tom Clyne queried.
“We’re making significant progress on that,” Superintendent Nolan replied.
Councillor Liam Williams complimented the gardaí on their work on Tuesday.
“I’d like to acknowledge the efforts by the superintendent. It puts the public’s mind at ease,” Councillor Williams said.
However, Superintendent Nolan expressed the hope that Tuesday’s arrests would not attract adverse publicity for the town.
“The one thing we don’t want to happen in this, we don’t want bad news publicity (for Kilrush),” he said.
“Absolutely. I would ask for discretion from the press. We have to let this happen and we have to let it all go to plan. We have to now sit back, keep our mouths shut and hope for the best,” Councillor Mairead O’Brien, who chaired the meeting, concurred.