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Irish Man of The People: Hail the CAB that carries gangsters to a prison cell.

Byline: STEPHEN MAGUIRE

THEY'RE not always around when you need them. But a very special CAB got its due recognition in Ireland this week.

The Criminal Assets Bureau may frighten the hell out of a lot of people.

But for most of us, they represent the frontline of our fight against hardened criminals and drug bosses.

This week a group, which included many suspected of bad deeds, tried to overthrow the elite Garda unit.

They claimed it was unconstitutional and brought a case to the Supreme Court to have it dismantled.

A result in their favour would have been a disaster for Ireland's attempt to clean up gangland.

Since it was set up in 1996 CAB has been a thorn in the very heart of gangsters and conmen across the country.

It has hit gangsters where they hate to be hit - in their pockets, seizing a total of pounds 64 million, including a whopping pounds 37 million from criminal suspects.

Men like John Gilligan and Brian Meehan, crooks who grew rich on the misery of our drug addicted youngsters, would never have seen the inside of a jail but for CAB.

Now that the bureau has dealt with many drug dealers, it is focusing its attention in other directions.

Its officers are examining the files of other suspects - including those involved in illegal smuggling of everything from booze to bulls.

Many more, including highly organised sex industry bosses and major tax evaders, are also coming under their spotlight.

They may be less dangerous than the dealers of deadly drugs, but they are growing rich on illegal profits nonetheless.

CAB boss Felix McKenna's face and those of his officers are probably on dart boards in every gangster's drinking hole across the country.

But for those of us with nothing to hide, McKenna and his men deserve all their powers.

And for Gilligan and his cronies, hopefully there'll always be another CAB along shortly.

CAPTION(S):

GILLIGAN: Paying for crime
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Oct 21, 2001
Words:328
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