Dail recalled for emergency crime debate

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The Irish government is to launch a crackdown on organised crime as a wave of public outrage grows over the murder of Dublin crime reporter Veronica Guerin.

The Dail is to be recalled for a special summer sitting next month to consider emergency legislation to target crime earnings and criminal assets, and possibly tighten up bail regulations.

Ms Guerin, who was renowned for her investigations into some of Ireland's leading criminals, was shot dead at the wheel of her car by two gunmen on a motorbike when she pulled up at traffic lights on a main road into Dublin on Wednesday.

The murder - which police believe was ordered by an ecstasy manufacturer in west Dublin - has provoked an outcry. A mass of floral wreaths and tributes were laid outside the Irish parliament at Leinster House. One inscription read bluntly: "Who do we vote for to do something about this?"

Irish politicians are facing bitter public criticism over what is widely seen as a complacent attitude towards loopholes in the law and towards garda resources that have enabled drug dealers to escape imprisonment.

A government spokesman said the new measures to target earnings and assets from crime will be put to the special Dail sitting on 25 July.

The aim is to provide wider grounds for prosecutions of those involved in organised crime and drugs, drawing on joint initiatives from the Irish tax authorities, the Revenue Commissioners and the Departments of Finance, Justice and Social Welfare. A government committee will report on possible measures a week before the Dail's special sitting.

Until now tax laws have not been used against major crime figures. The Revenue Commissioners last night confirmed no one has ever been jailed in the history of the Irish state for tax fraud, apart from a Cork man given a three-day sentence for not paying a fine.

Tightening Ireland's liberal bail laws, which have been blamed for preventing the remanding in custody of major drug dealers awaiting trial, may require a constitutional referendum.

One senior source argued that it was "more important to get it right than get it done quickly". He added that "none of the government parties believe that the present situation is satisfactory".

Ms Guerin's colleagues on the Sunday Independent yesterday called on all Irish journalists to observe a minute's silence in her memory at 1pm next Monday 1 July "as a signal to those who murdered her to say we are not going to be intimidated".