Call for more gardaí in Drogheda as gang feud escalates

A house is damaged in a petrol bomb attack in Loughboy, Drogheda, Co Louth. Photograph: Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

A house is damaged in a petrol bomb attack in Loughboy, Drogheda, Co Louth. Photograph: Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

Gardaí are investigating more than 70 individual incidents directly related to the ongoing feud in Drogheda since last summer, it has emerged.

Local Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd said the Co Louth town needed at least 25 more gardaí to combat the escalating gang conflict.

Gardaí are investigating three arson attacks in the town on Sunday morning. Last week a man was shot three times and wounded in what gardaí believe was a murder attempt. The feud is being waged between two drug gangs based mainly in Drogheda.

Extreme violence is now being used in residential areas and on busy public streets and retailing locations, often at peak times of a working day.

“There’s fear in the town, there’s deep concern, we need and must have more gardaí,” Mr O’Dowd said.

He said the two gangs fighting a war over drugs and territory were “placing the entire population of Drogheda at risk”.

He said he had been told by local gardaí that a bullet had missed a young girl passing by the shooting of a man on the street last week “by eight inches”.

Mr O’Dowd said he had a letter from Assistant Garda Commissioner Finbar O’Brien acknowledging that the ongoing criminal feud had placed considerable strain on the resources of the Drogheda district and Louth gardaí.

Special meeting

Meanwhile, moves are under way to hold a special meeting of the Drogheda Joint Policing Committee (JPC) which it is hoped the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, will attend.

The written request for the additional meeting has come from the outgoing chairman of the committee, Cllr Kenneth Flood.

He said that despite the feud being raised in the Dáil and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan visiting the town recently to be briefed by gardaí, “none of the requested additional and permanent supports have been delivered”.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) representative for Louth, Garda Derek O’Donoghue, said that since the first attempted murder last June, there had been 74 separate incidents directly related to the ongoing feud.

“That means there are 74 separate incidents all being investigated by gardaí locally. We do need extra resources from national units such as the ERU [Emergency Response Unit] and the National Surveillance unit.

“We need a strong police presence both overt and covert to take on these individuals,” he added.

The GRA will on Tuesday debate a motion calling for armed support units to be located in each division and specifically in the Border region which includes Louth.