A new task force comprised of local gardaí and members of the armed Emergency Response Unit is to be established to tackle crime in the midlands.

Laois TD and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has warned criminals that there is no place to hide.

He said "There may be a perception that rural towns, villages and townlands are soft touches for thieves and burglars - that perception is wrong. I am confident that a new Garda Task Force to tackle crime in the Laois-Offaly division will be highly effective,"

Minister Flanagan promised to fully support the new task force and said "I am confident that measures such as armed checkpoints will send the message to the crime gangs that Laois-Offaly is no safe harbour for them." 

He added "Our motorway network may be seen as an advantage by criminals  but garda intelligence and investment in new top-of-the-range vehicles will stop criminals from exploiting our infrastructure."

Minister Flanagan noted hat since the start of 2015, over 720 new garda vehicles have come on stream.

 "As successful arrests in the last 24 hours have shown, Gardai are targeting criminals who prey on householders and the net is closing on them," the Minister said.