Killing tests Dundalk’s hard-won community resilience

Stabbing to death of 24-year-old man and the wounding of two others stun Border town

Gardaí search a vacant property on Avenue Road in Dundalk, Co Louth, near the scene of the killing of 24-year-old Yosuke Sasaki. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gardaí search a vacant property on Avenue Road in Dundalk, Co Louth, near the scene of the killing of 24-year-old Yosuke Sasaki. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

From the decades of the Troubles to the murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohue in 2013, Dundalk is a town that has seen its fair share of tragedy.

But in recent years there has been a sort of quiet optimism in the area. Two decades after the Belfast Agreement, jobs have started to flow into the Co Louth town and new businesses are opening on a weekly basis.

That optimism was dented but not destroyed on Wednesday as news spread that a Japanese man had been stabbed to death and two Irish men had been injured in a series of connected attacks.

“Dundalk has been through the wars. Now there’s this. It is so, so shocking. There was no reason anything like this should happen,” said Anne Campbell, a Sinn Féin councillor on Louth County Council.

“We thought we were over the worst of these type of things. This just doesn’t happen in Dundalk.”

The dead man, 24-year-old Yosuke Sasaki, was one of a large number of international residents of the town, many of whom worked alongside him in National Pen Limited.

Disbelief

With about 1,000 staff, National Pen is one of the biggest employers in the town. Yesterday, colleagues of Mr Sasaki expressed disbelief at his death.

Mr Sasaki had been working at the facility since August 2017 and was well liked by his fellow employee, including the dozen or so other Japanese staff there, who mainly deal with international sales support. It was his second time in Ireland having previously spent time here studying English.

“He obviously thought he could come over here and have a bit of craic in Europe, no more than us going over to Thailand or whatever,” said Ms Campbell. “And then for this to happen to the chap.”

Staff members at Atami, a Japanese restaurant in the town, said they were still processing what happened. They described the attack as terrifying, adding Mr Sasaki was one of 20 to 30 Japanese nationals living in Dundalk.

The other two victims of the attacks are understood to be in shock but recovering from their injuries.

Cian Murphy (22), who finished his studies at Dundalk IT last year and now works at National Tile in the town, suffered stab wounds on Coes Road shortly after Mr Sasaki was killed.

Dylan Grehan (23), from the townland of Faughart, about 10km north of Dundalk, suffered head injuries when he was hit by a post. Both men have been released from hospital.

Two women laid flowers yesterday at the spot on Avenue Road where Mr Sasaki was killed.

“It’s just a small gesture to show we’re all in this together. It’s important to show that even if we didn’t know him” one woman said.

“That family has to come over here and bury their son. It’s not right. Nobody can make sense of it,” added the other woman.