Phones seized in Cherry Orchard may reveal those involved in car thefts and dangerous driving

Garda sources say investigators are confident they know the identities of the main people involved in a Garda ramming incident

Gardaí investigating a joyriding gang in Ballyfermot, Dublin, believe phones they have seized in two waves of search operations will link those involved to a series of car thefts and dangerous driving incidents in the area.

While the inquiry into the gang was already under way before last Monday night’s incident in Cherry Orchard, when gardaí were rammed by a number of young “joyriders”, it has now been stepped up. The inquiry is focused on gathering video footage recorded by the suspects of themselves stealing cars and “joyriding”.

Detectives believe footage posted via a number of social media accounts, over a period of months and especially in TikTok, can now be turned on those who recorded and shared it, and used in evidence against them.

On Saturday six homes were searched following the incident in Cherry Orchard. Gardaí seized mobile phones and other items, including clothing. That operation followed an initial six searches in the area last Thursday, when mobile phones were also seized.


While no arrests have been made yet gardaí say the searches last Thursday and Saturday were part of the evidence-gathering phase of the inquiry. Garda sources said investigators are confident they know the identifies of the main people involved, who range in age from their early teens to early 20s.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD said families were key to the issue of juveniles at risk to getting involved in criminal behaviour. Diverting them away from the type of crime witnessed in Cherry Orchard required two types of response: a tough, criminal justice response and a community response that looked at the “wider picture”.

A “staged process” with the criminal justice system was needed involving such measures anti-social behaviour orders, youth justice diversion programmes, the courts, and supervision schemes, she added.

Sinn Féin’s Cllr Daithí Doolan, in whose constituency last week’s disturbances occurred, said “the violence that goes with stolen cars” was a very regular occurrence in Cherry Orchard. However, he believed the ramming of the Garda car was “a game-changer” as it revealed the level of lawlessness caused under-resourced gardaí to flee.

“If the same level of violence happened in a lot of other communities it would have been dealt with,” he said. “But now it has become so deep and embedded that guards had to flee the area.”

He also believed older and more experience criminals were orchestrating some of the anti-social behaviour, adding they were grooming children to bring them under their control for the purposes of transporting and selling drugs.

He said a number of those criminals were released early from prison in 2020 to clear spaces in Irish jails and facilitate Covid-19 quarantining. From that point, he believed, the anti-social behaviour was more pronounced, while it also coincided with a lot of local clubs and other facilities being shut for the pandemic.

However, he believed the latest incident now represented a chance to seize “a tipping point” and to work on solutions to the problems locally, which he was confident could happen. “But it’s not cutting ribbons and cups of coffee we want, it’s resources and the personnel to provide the policing service and also long-term funding to get to these lads behind the wheel [of stolen cars] to change their behaviour.”

He believed the Government had neglected the area, and that responding to the latest spike in anti-social behaviour by putting the Garda Public Order Unit on standby was proof the battle to control anti-social behaviour was being “lost”.

“We need a policing service that’s embedded in the area,” he said of an expanded community policing that would develop a rapport with local people. At present the approach was “disjointed” and was not properly resourced.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent