Video: 43% of North's organised crime gangs are cross border hence new armed Garda unit

A new armed Garda support unit designed to clampdown on cross-border organised crime and terrorism was established following a joint threat assessment by the PSNI and An Garda Síochána last year.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said both police forces estimated that close to half of organised crime gangs in the North worked on a cross-border basis.

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

He said the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris thus decided to establish the Armed Support Unit to help tackle cross-border criminality.

"I have been informed by An Garda Síochána that in 2018, a cross-Border threat assessment was prepared jointly by An Garda Síochána and the PSNI," Deputy Varadkar told the Dáil.

"This assessment estimated that some 43 per cent of organised crime gangs in Northern Ireland have a cross-border dimension. Likewise mobile, organised crime groups responsible for multiple serious incidences of domestic burglary operate on an all-island basis.

"There are also increasing incidences of borderless crimes such as cyberfraud and international terrorism. This is the context in which the Garda Commissioner made an operational decision to establish another regional armed support unit, which will be based in County Cavan," he added.

The Taoiseach said two ASUs at Ballyshannon and Dundalk already served the northern region and that the new unit in Cavan would add to this capacity.

"A further 200 Garda recruits will attest later this week. I understand that a further 49 newly attested gardaí will be assigned to the northern region, which comprises the border counties, but not the actual physical border itself, which of course does not exist.

"There is close and ongoing co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI. This measure consists of additional gardaí and an additional armed support unit for what are the border counties, but not the border per se. I believe this will be welcomed by people, in particular by those who have been subjected to burglaries, in that region," he said.