Archive | June, 2010

Clondalkin, Dublin: Gardai Had Warned Murdered Criminals They Faced Attack: UPDATED

30 Jun

GARDAI WARNED MURDERED CRIMINALS THAT THEY WERE IN DANGER:

Clondalkin

THE TWO brothers shot dead in a gangland attack on Monday night were both wounded in the head and upper body, a post-mortem examination has revealed.

Garda sources said they were investigating if machine guns or other automatic weapons were used by the killers.

Gardaí believe Kenneth (32) and Paul Corbally (35) had been sitting in their Lexus car on Neilstown Road, west Dublin, near the Neilstown shopping centre for some time on Monday night before being shot dead at 8pm.

A silver Audi A6 pulled up alongside with at least two occupants inside, and possibly a third.

Two of the men, armed, got out of the Audi and opened fire on the Corballys’ car. The brothers, from Drumfinn Avenue, Ballyfermot, west Dublin, were hit in the head and upper body.

The gunmen got back into their car and sped from the scene. A 14-year-old local boy who was sitting in the back of the Corballys’ car was wounded in the arm and upper body.

He managed to flee the area and make his way to Tallaght hospital where he was still being treated last night. Gardaí are satisfied he was completely innocent and was not the target of the gunmen.

The boy was spoken to by gardaí yesterday and will be interviewed at length as a witness when his condition improves. His wounds are not life threatening.

Assistant Commissioner, Mick Feehan, who is in charge of policing in Dublin, said he wanted to make it clear to the people of west Dublin that gardaí were continually tackling organised gangs.

Gardaí had the “commitment, the will and the resources” to confront gangs engaged in drug dealing and gun crime and were determined to solve the latest killings.

Mr Feehan and Supt Pat Clavin, who is leading the double murder investigation team – based at Ronanstown Garda station –, said the Garda needed information from the community to help solve Monday night’s killings.

They said a silver Audio 6 car found burned out in the Foxborough estate a mile from the murder scene on Neilstown Road in Clondalkin, was used by the killers. The car had been fitted with a false taxi roof sign and false registration plates with the number 00 KE 13498.

Supt Clavin said the investigating team wanted to speak to anyone who saw the car in Clondalkin village or Neilstown Road from 5pm to the time of the murder at 8pm. He said members of the public may also have seen the car on the Fonthill Road or in Foxborough.

The Corbally brothers were well known to gardaí and were leading members of a drugs gang in Ballyfermot. They were involved in a long-running drugs turf war with a more established gang from the area.

Gardaí had warned the brothers on several occasions that intelligence had emerged which suggested the rival gang was planning to kill them.

The feud between the gangs had escalated in recent times. Recently when a leading member of the rival gang was attacked in an attempted shooting, the Corballys emerged as suspects.

Last year, members of the rival factions were drinking in the same Ballyfermot pub when they became involved in a mass fight.

When gardaí arrived at the scene, they found up to 20 people involved in the disturbance.

They were carrying a variety of weapons such as knives, broken glasses and broken bottles. It is understood a hatchet-type weapon was also wielded.

The gang that has now emerged as the chief suspects for Monday night’s double murder is led by a Ballyfermot man.

He is regarded as one of the biggest drug dealers in west Dublin and has been involved in serious gangland crime since the mid 1990s. He had links at that time to some members of the John Gilligan gang. A number of men who remain his close associates were jailed for possessing drugs worth hundreds of thousands of euro in the early 1990s when such large seizures were less frequent.

As well as drug dealing, the gang leader has been involved in money lending, extortion and money laundering. He has at least 15 convictions.

SHOT DEAD THIS YEAR:

June 22nd – Remains of Helen Donegan (30, above), Celbridge, Co Kildare, found in the boot of a car in a garage near Newcastle, Dublin. Missing for seven weeks, she had been shot. One man has been charged with murder.

May 31st –

The remains of Lee Slattery (24), Ballynanty, Limerick city, found in a shallow grave near the Moyross estate. Shot in the head, drug related.

April 23rd –

Notorious gang leader Eamon Dunne (34, above), Finglas, Dublin, shot dead in a Cabra pub as he attended a 40th birthday party. Drug related.

March 21st –

Séamus McMahon (41), shot dead in an apartment at Saltdown, Dundalk, Co Louth. Believed to be linked to a personal matter.

February 22nd –

Daniel Treacy (35) shot dead on his bread delivery round at a service station just outside Limerick city. One man charged with murder.

February 20th –

Aiden Byrne (32), from Dublin’s north inner city, shot dead on Drumalee Avenue, North Circular Road. A convicted rapist, he was involved in a gangland feud.

February 16th –

Christopher Emmet (21), shot dead at his home at Fortlawn Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin, with a legally held shotgun. One man charged with reckless discharge of a firearm.

January 20th –

Convicted drug dealer Gerard Stanton shot dead leaving his home at Westlawn, off Sarsfield Road, Cork. Real IRA claimed the killing.

January 16th –

Noel Deans (27, above), Blunden Drive, Coolock, Dublin, shot dead on Ferrycarrig Road, Coolock. He was a drug user and petty criminal.

January 10th –

Paddy Cooney (58) and Brendan Molyneux (46) gunned down at Mr Mooney’s flat off Pearse Street in Dublin. One man charged with murder.

January 9th –

The remains of drug dealer JP Joyce (30), Grove Lane, Coolock, Dublin, found dumped in a ditch near Dublin airport. Shot in the head by a Finglas drugs gang.

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Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has vowed to commit the full resources of the gardaí in bringing those responsible for last night’s double murder to justice.

Commissioner Murphy said the type of criminal activity that led to the killings cannot be tolerated in Irish society and would not be tolerated by An Garda Síochána.

“I wish to assure the people in this country that we will deal with this head-on and bring the people responsible to justice,” he said at a briefing in Ronanstown Garda station earlier today.

“We’re making arrests, we’re seizing drugs and we’re bringing people before the courts but there is a small core of people who are intent on settling scores by taking the lives of their enemies,” he said.

Commissioner Murphy said he could fully understand the public’s fear regarding gangland activity but insisted gardaí would use all its resources and its specialist units “to be in the face of these criminals”.

Last night’s killings brought to 14 the number of people shot dead so far this year and was the second double gun murder of 2010.

Local TD and Labour’s justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte said the murders showed again the viciousness of the criminal gangs operating in Irish society.

“It’s just appalling that it has come to this that human life is this cheap and professional killers roam the streets.”

Mr Rabbitte said the reason the criminal gangs are prepared to murder with impunity is that they know that there is little prospect of the killers being brought to justice.

He said crime figures, which he obtained from the Department of Justice earlier this year, showed that the 193 gun murders committed since 1998 resulted in just 23 convictions.

“These figures mean that just one gun murder in eight is likely to result in somebody ending up behind bars. This shocking statistic lays bare the claims of Fianna Fáil on crime.

Fianna Fáil TD for the area and Government Chief Whip John Curran condemned the murders, saying those responsible “had shown absolutely no regard for human life”.

“I know the people of Neilstown will be totally appalled to hear of this awful crime, regardless of the circumstances. There can be no justification for the taking of human life,” Mr Curran said and urged local residents to support the Garda investigation.

Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan said killings showed certain communities continue to be “terrorised by gangsters”.

“The fact that this double murder took place on a bright evening, while people were out enjoying the sunshine and children were playing, shows how communities continue to be terrorised,” Mr Flanagan said.

He accused the Government of not acting on its responsibilities.

“Urgent gangland legislation was rushed through the Dáil last year to make gang membership an offence, with Fine Gael’s full support,” he said.

“But it’s not being enforced under justice minister Dermot Ahern, and there hasn’t been a single conviction. In spite of his grand words and gestures, Minister Ahern is not making any impact against gangland,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh said: “It is clear that more resources are needed to be dedicated to the fight against drugs in our communities.

“Gardaí, who are fully trained to fight against crime, need to be taken out from behind their desks and put directly into the fight against the drugs crisis in this State,.”

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JUSTICE MINISTER Dermot Ahern said the latest gangland outrage showed the "sheer disregard for human life" in gangland circles.

Mr Ahern said the double murder – and the near death of a child – underlined the need for the anti-gang legislation he introduced last year. Speaking at an Oireachtas committee he said: "The murders in west Dublin on Monday night reveal the sheer disregard for human life and the families and loved ones of those callously gunned down."

Mr Ahern told the Oireachtas Justice Committee that he accepted gardaí faced "severe challenges" in dealing with gangland murders: "Often they receive no cooperation from the associates of the deceased. And the general public are fearful of threats and intimidation."

He said it was against this backdrop that the anti-gang legislation was passed last Summer. "The Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act facilitates the use as evidence in trials of material gained by secret surveillance. The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act provides for trying certain crimes involving criminal gangs in the Special Criminal Court unless the DPP directs otherwise."

He said the justice committee had agreed last week to renew the provisions in the act for another year. "It introduces several new organised crime offences with maximum prison sentences of 15 years to life, such as involvement in organised crime and directing or controlling a criminal organisation; simplifies the procedures relating to extension of time for questioning of suspects; and increases the penalties for intimidation of a witness or juror," he said.

Mr Ahern said 69 people had been arrested under the act so far and eight had been charged with either participating in or directing a criminal gang.

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THE bloody gunning down of two brothers in west Dublin has sparked fury among local and opposition TDs with calls for a mandatory 25-year sentence for gangland murders.

Locals in Neilstown were in shock after the double-murder which was carried out in daylight and also left a 14-year-old fighting for his life in hospital.

Despite claims by Garda chiefs yesterday that the force would face down serious crime, there were claims communities were being terrorised by gangland thugs.

In the latest murder of criminal brothers Paul and Kenneth Corbally, a volley of gun shots were fired at their black Lexus saloon car on a main road in a residential area.

Fine Gael’s justice spokesman, Charlie Flanagan, said the cold-blooded hit on the brothers in which a teenage passenger in the car was injured, showed the need for tough anti-gangland legislation.

"Our thoughts are now with this young victim and his family and I wish him a speedy recovery. The fact that this double murder took place on a bright evening, while people were out enjoying the sunshine and children were playing, shows how communities continue to be terrorised."

The opposition want tougher measures brought in against gangland crime, including a 25-year mandatory sentence for murder.

Mr Flanagan claimed that under urgent legislation rushed in last year to make gang membership an offence, there had not been one conviction.

Local west Dublin FF TD and Minister John Curran said: "This is a disgraceful crime, carried out with absolutely no regard for human life whatsoever and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms."

The Government chief whip urged locals to support the garda investigation and for potential witnesses to pass on details.

Fellow local TD and Sinn Féin justice spokesman Aengus O Snodaigh called for more resources to help tackle the scourge of drugs in communities.

"Gardaí, who are fully trained to fight against crime, need to be taken out from behind their desks and put directly into the fight against the drugs crisis in this state,."

According to recent figures provided to TDs, as many as 12% of the Garda’s 14,000-strong force are desk bound and assigned to work away from patrolling the streets.

Pat Rabbitte, Labour’s justice spokesman who has represented Neilstown residents for some years, described the murders as appalling.

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UPDATE:

GARDAÍ suspect a major drug trafficker put up money for the murder of the Corbally brothers after they gave his associate "a hiding" in April.

Detectives are also investigating the theory that this 36-year-old trafficker also wanted Paul and Kenneth Corbally dead in a bid to "clean out" the rival drug trafficking gang to which they were aligned.

The head of this gang was sentenced last month to a lengthy jail term after being caught with a massive haul of heroin.

This was the latest in a series of violent clashes between the two gangs.

Last September, more than 20 people from both gangs engaged in a mass fight outside Hannigen’s pub in Ballyfermot.

Gardaí said a range of weapons were used, including knives, broken bottles, broken glasses and even crutches. A British criminal was fatally stabbed in the melee and an associate of the rival drug trafficker is the suspected killer. The two Corbally’s also took part in the fight.

Gardaí yesterday continued talking to the 14-year- old boy who was injured in Monday’s shooting. He is under protective custody. Gardaí are also anxious to speak to anyone who may have seen a silver Audi A6.

The car was stolen in Co Carlow during the night of the June 8/9. The correct registration number for the car is 02 D 2633, and the car may have been seen with either this number or 00 KE 13498, a false plate.  

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UPDATE: ADDITION:

This week’s fatal shootings of Kenneth and Paul Corbally ended two crime careers, and underlined the many challenges facing Ballyfermot, writes-

CONOR LALLY IN THE IRISH TIMES:

THE KILLING OF Kenneth and Paul Corbally was carried out with savage efficiency last Monday. The brothers, from Ballyfermot in west Dublin, were sitting in their parked car on Neilstown Road in Clondalkin, with a 14-year-old boy in the back seat, when a car rammed into them. Two masked men armed with semi-automatic handguns got out of the car, which had been stolen, and fired into the Corballys’ car, hitting the brothers in the head and upper body.

The boy was hit three times in the arm and chest. He managed to scramble from the vehicle and has been under armed guard in hospital all week amid reports of threats on his life because he witnessed the shooting and could be in a position to give evidence in court.

Almost immediately after news of the killings broke, former drug-dealing associates of the Corbally brothers emerged as the chief suspects.

In recent years the brothers and a number of other drug dealers from Ballyfermot and neighbouring Clondalkin had split from an organised crime gang they had been aligned to in Ballyfermot. Last September members of both factions clashed in a Ballyfermot pub car park when a group of at least 20 fought with knives, broken bottles, glasses and a hatchet. One man was killed.

A few months ago the Corballys stabbed a member of the rival faction, though he survived. In April the brothers tried to shoot dead the faction’s leader, but he escaped.

Garda sources familiar with the gang rivalry said even before these incidents that tensions had been increasing because, in the recession-hit drugs world, competition for drug-dealing turf is more intense than ever.

The dead men were the only boys in a family of five children reared in a local-authority house on Drumfinn Avenue, off Ballyfermot Road, where their parents still live. Paul (35) was married and had at least one child, a baby girl. Kenneth (32) was also a father and is believed to have been in a long-term relationship. Both brothers had been living between Ballyfermot and Clondalkin in recent years.

A group of the dead brothers’ associates gathered outside the house this week to warn journalists off approaching the family. One journalist who called to leave a letter for the Corballys requesting an interview was assaulted by those outside. Others were met with aggression and verbal abuse.

Ballyfermot residents who know the family say they could never remember either Paul or Kenneth having a job. “They used to fix cars and I think sell cars out of the house, but they never had what you’d call a normal job,” says one local woman.

Another resident described Mrs Corbally and her three daughters as “great girls”. But the dead brothers and their father, Patrick, seemed to generate more fear than respect.

Patrick Corbally (56) was sentenced to seven years in prison in 1999 for possession of a machine gun with intent to endanger life, after a man who had gone to collect a car at the Corbally family home was shot by Kenneth while his brother Paul joined the attack using an iron bar. Kenneth was never charged for this, and his few convictions were for minor matters.

The court was told that, despite being unemployed, Patrick Corbally had an affluent lifestyle. Like his two sons he was on unemployment benefit, yet they had two new pick-up trucks and a new car at their house at the time. In January 2002 Paul Corbally was jailed for five years after taking part in a 1997 armed robbery during which a garage owner was rammed in his car in Clondalkin and relieved of more than €3,000.

At that time Paul Corbally had numerous convictions, dating back to 1994, for larceny, public order and assault. He was before the courts again in 2001 after a large piece of a double-barrel shotgun was found down his trousers when gardaí stopped their car near Lucan. He and Kenneth were wearing fake beards, and gardaí found a balaclava, hairpieces and a bottle of stage make-up glue in the car. Paul Corbally was cleared of possessing a component of a gun on a technicality: that the handle of a gun was not central to its discharge.

Garda sources say the brothers were originally members of a west Dublin group known as the M50 gang, which carried out robberies in Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary and elsewhere. The gang was known for breaking into houses to steal legally held shotguns. “They’d have no problem roughing up old people who got in the way. They were particularly violent,” says one Garda source.

They also ram-raided and robbed warehouses where high-value resalable goods, such as cigarettes and alcohol, were stored.

In recent years the Corballys had graduated to a significant level of drug dealing in west Dublin. In April one of their fellow gang members, Michael Byrne, a 36-year-old from Old Tower, in Clondalkin, was jailed for 18 years after being caught in possession of heroin worth €6.2 million in 2008.

The man who leads the faction believed to have carried out the Corballys’ killing is a notorious gang leader from Ballyfermot. He has been involved in serious gangland crime since the mid-1990s, when he had links to some members of the John Gilligan gang. A number of men who remain his close associates were jailed for possessing drugs worth hundreds of thousands of euro in the early 1990s, when such large seizures were less frequent. As well as drug dealing, he has been involved in money lending, extortion and money laundering. He has at least 15 convictions.

Senior gardaí fear Monday’s double killing will prove the first chapter in a tit-for-tat murderous feud. Despite its drug problem, unlike other parts of west and southwest Dublin, Ballyfermot has featured infrequently in media coverage of gang violence. “They mightn’t have been shooting each other much up till now, but there’s plenty of people on drugs,” said one local pensioner.

ON THE SURFACE Ballyfermot seems to have done well from the boom. At the centre of the village is the new Ballyfermot Civic Centre, which runs all of Dublin City Council’s services for Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard. It houses a library and a theatre, which hosted Riverdance last year. Nearby, the new Ballyfermot Leisure Centre houses a 25m pool, six five-a-side all-weather football pitches and a gym. Cherry Orchard Equine Centre, just beside Ballyfermot, is one of the biggest facilities of its kind in Europe, and the area also boasts the Ballyfermot College of Further Education.

But despite these facilities, research prepared for Dublin City Council paints a grim picture of the area, with all seven of its local electoral divisions classified as disadvantaged or extremely disadvantaged. One of the areas, Kylemore, recorded the lowest level of disadvantage possible, while the other six areas recorded the second-lowest score possible.

Just over half of the young people in the Ballyfermot area leave school before the Leaving cert, the second worst record in Dublin. And research carried out in 2007 by the local Ballyfermot Partnership community project revealed the number of young people from the area attending third level reduced between 2002 and 2007, from 6.5 per cent to just 4 per cent. The national average is 23 per cent.

The research notes: “Ballyfermot is essentially a working-class area characterised by extreme deprivation, high unemployment, low incomes and relatively large numbers of lone parents.” Vincent Jackson, an Independent councillor, says the facilities the area has gained in the past decade are the envy of other working-class communities and are reaching many at-risk children, as well as disadvantaged families. But what worries him most is the rising unemployment rate. In 2006, he says, there were just over 800 long-term unemployed in Ballyfermot but there are now just under 3,400, in an area with a total population of just under 21,000.

He is also fearful of the attitude of some locals towards Monday’s killings. “There’s a perception that if a person gets shot who has been involved in crime, then somehow those lives are expendable. But we shouldn’t stoop to that lowest common denominator; it will only lead to more violence.” Jackson says the fact that Monday’s attack happened in Clondalkin rather than Ballyfermot, even though the victims and suspected killers are all from Ballyfermot and deal drugs there, lessened the impact for those in his community.

Fr Seamus Ryan, the parish priest at St Matthew’s Church, where the funeral Mass of the two Corballys is due to be concelebrated this morning, says Ballyfermot has changed during his 18 years there.

“Living conditions have definitely improved. The appearance of the place is far better, and things such as joyriding, which was a massive problem, have gone. But the drugs are all around; that’s the difference. The fear in Ballyfermot is not of gangs; its parents worrying their kids will end up on drugs.”

Just off Ballyfermot Road, which runs through the village, is the Base, a new €7 million facility for at-risk young people. It provides a range of health-related and legal services to young people referred by the Probation Service, the Garda, and the HSE, the Department of Education, local schools and parents. It also has a crèche where young parents can leave their children while they focus on staying in school or addressing personal issues such as drug addiction. The Base also provides a cafe and pool room, computer rooms and recording studios.

One worker says those employed in the centre are frustrated by the lack of support from the Government. “Most of the money for the facilities you see around here came from the EU because it designated Ballyfermot as a black spot,” says another. “A lot of the kids are into cannabis and alcohol in terms of consumption, and cocaine and heroin for selling; some are runners for gangs, bringing drugs from A to B for them. For us it’s obviously about trying to prevent them getting wrapped up in drugs, either ending up strung out or in a gang.”

Others say successive governments have been too short term in their thinking and constantly try to address complex social issues via the criminal justice response of more investment in the Garda and prisons. “If you get the kids young, invest in them now, you can steer a lot of them away from crime, keep them in school. It can definitely be done.”

 

www.garda.ie

THINK HEALTH NOT DRUGS: WORLD DRUG DAY MESSAGE

30 Jun

INJECTING DRUG USE IS DECLINING IN EUROPE: EMCDDA:

On 26 June, the world will commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which serves as a reminder of the need to combat the problems illicit drugs pose to society.

"We must recognize the major impediment to development posed by drug abuse and illicit trafficking," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message. Cultivating illicit crops and producing drugs threaten the environment, taking drugs puts the health of users at risk and the illicit drug trade undermines the rule of law.

To cultivate coca, for example, farmers cut trees and use a lot of water. Deforestation and erosion are the result. The chemicals used to produce cocaine cause further damage to the environment, as they poison locals streams. Farmers, their families and communities become poorer, as their land is their livelihood.

For its part, drug trafficking erodes governance and institutions. "Drug traffickers typically seek routes where the rule of law is weak. In turn, drug-related crime deepens vulnerability to instability and poverty", Mr. Ban said. West Africa and Central America are two regions affected by the flow of drugs transiting from drug-producing countries to drug-consuming countries.

Once drugs enter the markets, the health of consumers is at stake. Drug use can cause a number of physical and psychological problems, some serious. Drug use is linked to hepatitis and HIV, for instance. In fact, injecting drug use is a leading cause of the spread of HIV.

What can be done to deal with these issues? Focus on development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We must put an end to poverty and hunger, improve health, combat HIV/AIDS and ensure environmental sustainability. "Our work to achieve the MDGs and fight drugs must go hand-in-hand", Mr. Ban said.

UNODC is assisting States in their efforts to provide sustainable development alternatives for farmers and their communities, to enhance justice and reduce corruption, to prevent drug use and to treat those who need health-care services. Everyone has a role to play. As Mr. Ban said, on this day it is important to "reaffirm our commitment to this shared responsibility within our communities, and among the family of nations". As the theme of the world drug campaign stresses, "it is time to think health, not drugs".

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Drug consumption is moving away from cocaine and opiates and increasingly towards synthetic drugs, a UN report said Wednesday, while warning of growing drug use in developing countries.

"The world’s supply of the two main problem drugs — opiates and cocaine — keeps declining," the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found in its 2010 World Drug Report presented Wednesday.

In the last two years, the land used for opium cultivation worldwide has shrunk by 23 percent, it noted, while coca cultivation, most of it in the Andes and vital for cocaine and heroin production, has dropped by 28 percent in the last decade.

On the flip-side however, the global number of users of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) — between 30 and 40 million — was soon expected to top the combined number of opiate and cocaine users, the UNODC warned.

"We will not solve the world drugs problem if we simply push addiction from cocaine and heroin to other addictive substances and there are unlimited amounts of them, produced in mafia labs at trivial costs," director Antonio Maria Costa said.

With short trafficking routes — ATS are often produced close to their target market — and with raw materials readily and legally available, these drugs were harder to seize, the office noted.

While cocaine consumption has fallen significantly in the United States, the number of users in Europe has doubled in the last decade to 4.1 million in 2008, shifting trafficking routes with disastrous consequences for regional security and drug use in developing countries, the UNODC also said.

Summarising the problem, Costa pointed out: "People snorting coke in Europe are killing the pristine forests of the Andean countries and corrupting governments in West Africa."

Developing countries were increasingly falling prey to drugs, the office noted: heroin consumption was up in eastern Africa, cocaine use had increased in West Africa and South America, and production of synthetic drugs was also rising in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

"We will not solve the world drugs problem by shifting consumption from the developed to the developing world," Costa concluded.

While users in rich countries had the necessary facilities to help them overcome their addiction, this was not the case for poorer nations, the UNODC chief said, calling for universal access to drug treatment.

In 2008, the last year for which data was available, only a fifth of drug addicts had access to treatment, leaving some 20 million users worldwide without care, the report said.

Drug addiction should be handled as a health issue, rather than an offence punishable by jail time, or even execution, it added.

"Just because people take drugs, or are behind bars, this doesn’t abolish their rights."

"I appeal to countries where people are executed for drug-related offences or, worse, are gunned down by extra-judicial hit squads, to end this practice," Costa urged.

Cannabis meanwhile remained the most widely produced and consumed drug, being grown in almost every country and smoked by between 130 and 190 million people every year, the UNODC found.

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The use of intravenous drugs has decreased in most European countries although Bulgaria and Slovakia bucked the trend, according to a report published Thursday by a Lisbon-based monitoring body.

Data shows "that injecting drug use is declining in many countries, as are rates of new HIV infections among drug users," said European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction chief Wolfgang Gotz.

The centre added in a statement that there was a "statistically significant" decline between 2002 and 2007 among heroin users entering treatment for the first time in 10 countries.

"Only two countries, Bulgaria and Slovakia, bucked the trend with statistically significant increases," it said in the report released ahead of the June 26 International Day Against Drug Abuse.

"The highest levels of injecting among this group are reported from countries that entered the EU in 2004 or later," it added.

Data from 12 EU member states suggested there were about 2.5 intravenous drug users per 1,000 people aged 15-64, the centre said, adding this meant there were 750,000 to one million injecting drug users in the European Union.

It added that "in the EU Member States, the rates of newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection among injecting drug users are mostly at stable and low levels, or in decline."

Gotz said the downward trend could be "linked to sound investments made in effective prevention, treatment and harm-reduction measures which now reach many more of those in need."

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www.unodc.org & un office on drugs and crime unodc

Terenure, Dublin: Gardai Seize Cocaine Worth €9.5m In Anti-Gang Raids

28 Jun

GARDAI SEIZE GUNS & COCAINE WORTH OVER €9.5m & MIXING FACTORY DURING ANTI-GANG RAIDS IN SOUTH DUBLIN:

Gardaí in Dublin have seized 14kg of cocaine worth an estimated €9.5m.

The drugs were found yesterday evening in a house in Terenure, south Dublin, as part of an intelligence-led operation targeting one of the capital’s criminal gangs.

Two semi-automatic handguns along with mixing agents were also found at the house.

The seizure is part of an operation which has been running for a number of months.

The searches were carried out following the seizure last Thursday of €2m worth of cocaine at a house in Tallaght.

A man and a woman arrested following that seizure are still being questioned.

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Cocaine with an estimated street value of €9.5 million has been seized in Dublin in one of the largest drug finds this year.

The drugs were seized by gardaí following a planned search of a house on Corrib Road in Terenure last night.

A drug-mixing factory was discovered during the course of the search led by gardaí from Terenure and Kevin Street.

Two semi-automatic handguns were also recovered. The drug seizure was made as part of ongoing investigations into organised crime in south Dublin.

Two people, a 24-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man, remain in custody following a number of searches late last week. They are being questioned ay Kilmainham and Kevin St Garda stations Section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act.

During these searches gardaí uncovered what they described as a “sophisticated cocaine factory” where cocaine and dental anaesthetic with a combined street value of €2 million was seized.

Gardaí also found some €60,000 in cash at one of a number of houses searched during the operation.

The discovery of the operation was made when gardaí raided a house in the Cushlawn estate in Tallaght, west Dublin.

The search was part of a wider operation into the activities of two gangs involved in a feud in the suburbs of Crumlin and Drimnagh in southwest Dublin.

When the Tallaght property was raided on Thursday night, gardaí found cocaine bagged for resale. Some 60kg of lignocaine was also found with blenders and weighing scales.

Garda sources said the drugs that had already been bagged were of significantly larger quantities than street deals, which are normally sold in small bags for about €80.

“The stuff was going to be sold on to somebody else who would cut it down again for selling to users,” said one source.

Dental anaesthetics are used in the bulking-up process because they mimic some of the physical effects of cocaine use, such as numbing of the gums and throat.

Apart from the Tallaght search, a number of other properties were searched in Walkinstown in west Dublin and in Drimnagh. Further searches were carried out in Rathcoole and Clondalkin.

www.garda.ie

Justice Minister Aims To Close Down ‘HEADSHOPS’

19 Jun

JUSTICE MINISTER AIMS TO CLOSE DOWN ‘HEAD SHOPS’:

The Minister for Justice has announced details of legislation aimed at putting headshops out of business.

Under proposed new legislation, a person convicted of selling psychoactive substances like those being sold by some headshops could face up to five years in jail.

The sanction is contained in the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010, which was published this (Friday 18th June) morning by Minister Dermot Ahern.

The Government hopes the bill will pass all stages and become law before the Dáil and Seanad rise for the summer recess.

The bill was produced in record time, the Minister said, to counteract the problems being posed by the sale of such products through Headshops.

It is designed to work in tandem with amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act announced in May, which outlawed a number of substances commonly being sold by Headshops.

Since then, the number of headshops nationwide has fallen from around 100 to 48.

Under the proposed legislation, it is illegal to sell or supply for human consumption substances which are not contained in the Misuse of Drugs Act, but which have psychoactive effects.

The bill gives the gardaí immediate powers to close headshops, using a civil rather than a criminal burden of proof.

Under the legislation, a Garda Superintendent or higher ranked officer may serve a prohibition order on someone he or she believes is selling or supplying these substances.

If the superintendent then thinks the individual is not obeying the order, they can then apply to the District Court for a closure order or take a prosecution.

The definition of selling in the bill is broad, and includes supplying, distributing, offering for sale, exposing or keeping for sale and being in possession for sale.

It includes sale over the internet or through home delivery services.

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RADICAL laws to close head shops and imprison the sellers of "legal highs" have been announced, with offenders facing sentences of up to five years.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern published legislation that will make the sale and supply of psychoactive substances which mimic illegal drugs a criminal offence.

He insisted that Gardaí and law authorities would have enough resources to pursue offenders and said he hoped the laws would lead to the closure of head shops after concerns raised by parents and anti-drugs groups.

Products which mimic the effects of cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy will be targeted.

"This is probably the first time this type of legislation has been brought forward that we know of in Europe in relation to a general approach to psychoactive substances," said the minister.

The Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010 is expected to be passed before the Dáil’s summer recess. It comes as head shops are introducing alternatives to bypass health legislation rolled out last month which sought to ban a list of substances.

Mr Ahern added: "Under normal legislation here in Ireland under the Misuse of Drugs Act in Ireland and in other EU countries, they have banned specific products and as soon as you shut off one door, another one opens. This will be much more effective for the Gardaí, particularly to close down these premises."

A general ban will exist on selling, advertising or supplying psychoactive substances, even through the internet or home delivery.

Under the bill, senior gardaí through the courts will have the power to prohibit the sale of products as well as issue closure orders. Gardaí and Customs will have full powers to search premises and seize substances.

This will be enforced under civil, not criminal, law. But offenders found guilty on summary conviction in the district court of selling substances face fines of up to €5,000 as well as up to 12 months in jail. Those convicted in the circuit court face up to five years in jail.

The Forensic Science Laboratory will decide on whether products passed on by the Gardaí are illegal.

www.garda.ie

Silverbridge, South Armagh: Extensive Area Of Marshland Polluted By Illegal Diesel Laundering Operation

18 Jun

SILVERBRIDGE, SOUTH ARMAGH: EXTENSIVE AREA OF MARSHLAND POLLUTED BY DIESEL LAUNDERING:

A diesel laundering plant hidden in a remote farm building has polluted an extensive area of marshland in South Armagh, it has been revealed.

The illegal operation, capable of producing up to 1.75 million litres of illicit fuel a year, was dismantled on Thursday by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) at a Silverbridge farm.

Police and customs officers uncovered equipment and farm machinery being used to launder rebated diesel along with several vehicles for transporting the laundered fuel.

As part of the clean-up operation HMRC has removed more than 20,000 litres of toxic waste, the residue of the laundering process. Underground slurry tanks were used to store the waste, which had leaked into a nearby river, with other waste dumped on nearby marshland.

Mike Connolly, assistant director of specialist investigations, HMRC, said: "This pollution is a prime example of the total disregard criminals have for our land and waterways.

"Indiscriminate dumping of the by-products from the laundering process can cause severe damage to the environment, as well as taxpayers and local ratepayers having to pay for the clean-up and disposal costs.

"People need to be aware of the environmental and safety issues surrounding the laundering of fuel, which is often done in the midst of rural or farming communities."

Kildare: Newbridge Gardai Appeal Over Missing Teenager

16 Jun

 

The public’s help has been sought to find a missing teenager in Co Kildare.

Ryan Delaney, 13, was last seen in the Newbridge area at around 8.15pm on Sunday night.

He is described as 5ft (1.52m) tall with short brown hair, blue eyes, and is of slim build.

When last seen he was wearing a blue and white striped hooded sweatshirt, navy tracksuit bottoms and black Nike runners.

When last seen he was wearing a blue and white striped hooded sweatshirt, navy tracksuit bottoms and black Nike runners. Gardai believe that he may be in the Dublin area.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Newbridge Garda Station at 045-440180, the Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800-111666 or any garda station.

Derry: Bloody Sunday Killings Unjustifiable: Saville

15 Jun

 

British Prime Minister David Cameron has apologised for what he said were the ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’ events of Bloody Sunday.

The Saville Report | Overall Assessment | Report Reaction
A Timeline of Events | Watch David Cameron’s Speech

He was speaking following the publication of Lord Saville’s inquiry into the killing of 14 civilians in Derry in 1972.

In a statement, he said the 5,000-page report found that ‘on balance’ British troops fired the first shots during the ‘tragic events’ of 30 January 1972 without issuing a warning.

He told MPs: ‘The conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt, there is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities.

Bereaved families march to Guildhall

‘What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.’

Mr Cameron told a hushed House of Commons: ‘Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The Government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of our armed forces and for that, on behalf of the Government – and indeed our country – I am deeply sorry.’

The lengthy and massively costly inquiry also concluded that Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was present at the time of the violence and ‘probably armed with a submachine gun’ but did not engage in ‘any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire’.

The soldiers of Support Company who entered the Bogside area of Derry ‘did so as a result of an order … which should have not been given’ by their commander, the report said.

The civilians died after troops opened fire on a civil rights march.

Mr Cameron said Lord Saville ‘finds that on balance the first shot in the vicinity of the march was fired by the British Army.

‘He finds that none of the casualties shot by the soldiers of Support Company was armed with a firearm.’

While shots were fired by republican paramilitaries ‘none of this firing provided any justification for the shooting of civilian casualties’.

Lord Saville found that ‘in no case was any warning given before soldiers opened fire’.

There was a ‘serious and widespread loss of fire discipline’ among the troops and that none of the soldiers ‘fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombs’.

Many of the soldiers ‘knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing’.

Lord Saville’s findings disclosed that many of those shot were fleeing the troops or assisting the wounded.

While the report concluded that ‘immediate responsibility’ lay with those members of Support Company who engaged in ‘unjustifiable firing’, Mr Cameron said that the use of terms such as ‘murder and unlawful killing’ was not a judgment the Saville tribunal – or politicians – could make.

But he acknowledged: ‘These are shocking conclusions to read and shocking words to have to say.

‘We do not honour all those who served with such distinction by keeping the peace and upholding the rule of law in Northern Ireland by hiding from the truth.’

Derry welcomes the report

Families of the Bloody Sunday victims gave a triumphant thumbs-up as the report into the deaths was published.

They waved a copy of Lord Saville’s report at the Guildhall in Derry as they prepared to listen to Mr Cameron’s assessment.

Crowds watched on a big outdoor screen as the British leader said he could not defend the British army by defending the indefensible.

Criminal charges considered

The North’s Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Alasdair Fraser, head of the Public Prosecution Service are to have talks to consider whether any of the paratroopers who opened fire on Bloody Sunday will face criminal charges.

Any decision is solely a matter for the PPS, acting independently in accordance with the Test for Prosecution, according to a statement from Alasdair Fraser’s office in Belfast.

It added: ‘The Director of Public Prosecutions, together with the Chief Constable, will consider the report to determine the nature and extent of any police inquiries and investigations which may be required to enable informed decisions as to prosecution to be taken.’

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UPDATE:

The killing of 14 civilians in Derry on Bloody Sunday in January 1972 was “unjustified”, Lord Saville’s inquiry into the incident has concluded.

The inquiry’s 5,000 page report was heavily critical of the behaviour of the British army in Derry on the day and found that all those killed were innocent.

The report states some of those who were killed or injured were clearly fleeing from the British paratroopers or going to the assistance of others who were dying.

The release of the report was greeted by loud cheers and applause by family members and their supporters gathering outside the Guildhall in Derry.

The inquiry concluded that several of the troops who provided testimony about the events lied to the inquiry and was particularly critical of one paratrooper regiment, which was deemed to have fired the 100 or so shots on the day.

Delivering the findings of the report, British prime minister David Cameron said it had found none of the casualties posed any threat to British troops. He told the House of Commons no warnings were given, and that some of the soldiers lost control.

“The Government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces," he said. "And for that, on behalf of the Government, indeed on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.”

The report, completed over 12 years, investigated the mass killing of members of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association by members of the Parachute Regiment during a during a march in Derry on January 30th, 1972.

The men killed on the day were Patrick Doherty (32), Hugh Gilmour (17), Jackie Duddy (17), John Young (17), Kevin McElhinney (17), Michael Kelly (17), Gerald Donaghey (17), William Nash (19), Michael McDaid (20), Jim Wray (22), William McKinney (27) and Bernard "Barney" McGuigan (41).

John Johnston (59), one of the first to be shot on the day, died from his injuries four months later.

Lord Saville’s report said the soldiers of the support company who went into the Bogside, where the march was taking place, did so “as a result of an order which should not have been given” by their commander. None of the casualties was carrying a firearm and while there was some shooting by IRA gunmen, “none of this firing provided any justification for the shooting of civilian casualties”, it found.

It concluded that “on balance” the first shot in the vicinity of the march was fired by British soldiers and no warning was given to civilians.

The support company “reacted by losing their self-control … forgetting or ignoring their instructions and training” and the result was a “serious and widespread loss of fire discipline”.

The key finding were:

– “The firing by soldiers of 1 Para caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury.” This also applied to the 14th victim, who died later from injuries;

– “Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers.” The report added that no one threw, or threatened to throw, nail or petrol bombs at soldiers;

– The accounts of soldiers were rejected, with a number said to have “knowingly put forward false accounts”;

– Members of the official IRA fired a number of shots, though it was concluded it was the paratroopers who shot first on Bloody Sunday;

Lord Saville, who also investigated the activities of Provisional and Official IRA members on the day, concluded that Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was probably armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun during the march, but that, although he may have fired the weapon, it was not possible to say so for certain. “He did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire.”

Later this afternoon the public is being asked to assemble at the Bloody Sunday memorial on Rossville Street in the Bogside and then to proceed to the Guildhall, symbolically breaking through Barrier 14 at William Street where the original anti-internment march was stopped and the shooting began.

An earlier inquiry into the events of the day by Lord Widgery was declared a whitewash and in 1998 British prime minister Tony Blair called for a fresh inquiry.

In the Widgery Report, Lord Widgery concluded “that there was no reason to suppose the soldiers would have opened fire if they had not been fired upon first”.

It said that while some soldiers showed a high degree of restraint in opening fire, the firing of others bordered on the reckless.

Lord Widgery said there would have been no deaths if those who had organised the illegal march had not, as this created a “highly dangerous situation in which a clash between demonstrators and the security forces was almost inevitable”.

The Saville inquiry is the longest in UK judicial history and had cost £190.3 million up to February this year. It sat at the Guildhall, Derry, and Central Hall at Westminster in London, to accommodate military witnesses.

About 2,500 people gave testimony, with 922 of these called to give oral evidence, including 505 civilians, nine experts and forensic scientists, 49 journalists, 245 military, 35 paramilitaries or former paramilitaries, 39 politicians and civil servants, seven priests and 33 Royal Ulster Constabulary officers.

Evidence ran to 160 volumes of data with an estimated 30 million words, 13 volumes of photographs, 121 audio tapes and 10 video tapes.

News organisations from the US, Italy, France, Russia, Nigeria, Australia and from the Middle East have gathered in Derry to hear details of the incident, as well as journalists from Ireland and Britain.