Video: Micheál Martin says 'rule of law gone on both sides of border' and 'war lords' operating in Good Friday Agreement vacuum
The Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has claimed 'the rule of law is gone on both sides of the border' and stated that 'war lords' have been acting with near impunity in a 'vacuum since the Good Friday Agreement.'
The leader of the opposition in the Dáil was responding to recent attacks and threats against the staff and directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings in Cavan and at "the barbaric, professional kidnapping and assault on Kevin Lunney".
He stated: "I have long asserted that the rule of law is gone in the Border area, on both sides of the Border. The State has not been in control for some time and criminality reigns supreme. We need to fundamentally alter what we have been doing in relation to that.
"That means establishing a multidisciplinary joint agency, similar to the Criminal Assets Bureau, between the PSNI, An Garda Síochána and others. A task force will not cut it because statutory underpinning is needed.
"That would send a message once and for all to these warlords that enough is enough, we are not taking any more and we will assert the supremacy of the democratic State and law and order above and beyond anything else.
"Operation Loft, conducted by the Criminal Assets Bureau, indicated what is going on in the Border area. I am not exaggerating this issue, which has been ongoing for a long time."
Deputy Martin referred to recent concerns voiced by QIH director John McCartin.
"The point made by John McCartin is that there has been a vacuum since the Good Friday Agreement," he remarked.
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar replied: "I say again that the threats made to the directors of QIH are totally unacceptable, as is the violence perpetrated against Kevin Lunney. It is a question of the rule of law. Law and order must prevail in all parts of the country.
"I met the Garda Commissioner, with the Minister for Justice and Equality, on this matter only last week. I spoke to John McCartin twice on the phone and I will speak to him again.
"He has been complimentary about the interest which the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Humphreys, and I have taken in this issue over a period.
"The Garda Commissioner is meeting the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings today to discuss a number of ongoing investigations relating to these threats.
"The posters, as far as I am aware, have been removed. They had been removed previously, were put up again and have now been removed again. We have put additional resources into the Border area, including more than 100 additional gardaí in the past two years, extra Garda staff and a fully armed service unit for the Cavan area.
"The Garda Commissioner informs me that the level of resourcing will continue. On foot of our discussion, he will discuss with the PSNI how the Garda and PSNI can best work together on a joint investigation. I am not sure if a statutory agency is the best way for them to do so, as something like that takes a long time to establish, but I would not rule it out."