The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has told the Dáil that the Government was providing the agencies of the criminal justice system with the financial resources and the legislative framework needed to tackle gang-related crime.

Mr Ahern was responding to a challenge from the Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, about the Government's record on crime.

He asked the Taoiseach if it was the Government or the gunmen who were in charge of the streets.

Mr Ahern said the difficulty the gardaí had in bringing people involved in gun crime to justice could not be underestimated.

Earlier, the Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan said he would ask the Garda Commissioner if the Defence Forces should be deployed to assist in tackling gang-related crime.

The minister was responding in the Dáil to Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan, who said that 'gangsters' are living in fear of nobody, and that there is now a sub-culture of 'vicious criminals' in Ireland.

Deputy Flanagan said the Government should consider introducing the Army as back-up to gardaí.

Minister Lenihan said that, as the question had been raised, he would discuss it with the Garda Commissioner but he pointed out that the Army were not trained in policing functions.

He also denied that the gardaí are under-resourced for dealing with gang crime.