Gardaí investigating three arson attacks in Finglas, Dublin, at the weekend linked to a gangland feud have carried out several searches. The latest Garda operation targeting rival gangs from the north Dublin suburb resulted in the seizure of cash and at least one vehicle.
Investigating gardaí also believe two cars found burned out after the attacks had been used as getaway vehicles by the perpetrators and were deliberately set ablaze in an attempt to destroy any forensic evidence that might link them to the crimes.
There is now serious concern among local gardaí that the feud is set to worsen as both gangs were expected to engage in revenge attacks on each other following the weekend events. The first incident of the weekend occurred on the Barnamore estate just before 2.20am when the family of James Whelan, the feud's first murder victim, was petrol bombed.
The flames largely gutted the end-of-terrace property while two vehicles outside the house were also damaged significantly by the flames.
Mr Whelan’s mother, who lives in the house, was asleep at the time when gardaí entered the property to help her and several others present to escape. While nobody was seriously injured in the attack, a garda was treated in hospital for smoke inhalation.
On Saturday night two other houses – on the Casement and Virginia estates in Finglas – were targeted in arson attacks in retaliation for the petrol bombing of the Whelan home. Garda sources stressed that people who had no links to the feud, or any form of criminality, had been targeted in the weekend attacks simply because they were related to, or associated with, some of the men who are involved in the dispute.
The feud is between two factions once part of a drugs gang in Finglas. The gang split after an internal row and since the start of this year a feud between them has worsened. It has been involved drive-by shootings, petrol bombings, beatings and at least one abduction. Approximately 70 feud-related incidents have been record to date.
The shooting dead of convicted drug dealer Whelan, a 29-year-old father of one from Finglas, in the early hours of Sunday morning, April 3rd, represented an escalation in the violence.
Whelan a leader of one of the feuding gangs and had gone to the Deanstown estate to carry out a petrol bombing on the morning of his killing. He was spotted by some of the men with whom he was feuding, chased him through the estate and shot dead.
Several sources have told The Irish Times that the older more established criminals on both sides of the feud recruited many younger boys into their ranks during the pandemic.
There is now concern that these boys are being used to courier and sell drugs and that some of them are being directed to carry out the attacks on houses that have become a feature of the feud in recent months.