Mulhuddart gun discovery: ‘People are terrified to let their children out on the streets’

Councillors say more Garda resources urgently needed in Dublin 15

Gardaí at the scene in the Castlecurragh Heath area of Mulhuddart  following a shooting in the area on June 29th. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Gardaí at the scene in the Castlecurragh Heath area of Mulhuddart following a shooting in the area on June 29th. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Increased Garda resources and community support services are urgently needed across Dublin 15 to ensure the safety of local residents and their children, councillors have said.

Families living in the Castlecurragh estate in Mulhuddart in northwest Dublin were left shaken and fearful for their loved ones’ safety on Thursday evening after a group of young children discovered a loaded handgun in the local park. The children, who were aged between 5-7, informed an adult of their discovery who then contacted the gardaí.

A Garda Armed Support Unit on a routine patrol responded immediately and attended the scene at Castlecurragh Park where they made the weapon safe.

Labour councillor Mary McCamley, who lives in the Castlecurragh estate, arrived home to find nearly two dozen armed support gardaí gathered in the park and blocking off the area. She later spoke to the mother of the child who found the gun who relayed how the children were unable to pick up the weapon because of its weight. Residents believe the gun was thrown over the railing from the main road which runs alongside the park, said Cllr McCamley.

“They’re normally safe in that area; it’s a lovely place for them to play. The schools had closed so they were out playing. The people in these estates work extremely hard to make the area look well. We’ve trying to build up a community that is vocal and positive. Whoever these people are who are playing around with guns obviously have no concern for their community, for their families and for their neighbours.”

Last weekend a man was shot a number of times while sitting in his car in Mulhuddart as children played nearby. “There have been a number of incidents in the area and people are terrified to let their children out on the streets. My neighbours are absolutely disgusted. You shouldn’t be frightened of living in your own home and your own estate.”

Cllr McCamley worries the presence of guns and violence in the local area is at risk of becoming normalised for younger generations. “All of these guys with guns, that’s what children see and they accept it. That’s not acceptable for children.”

Earlier this year plans to build 1,000 new homes in west Dublin was given the go-ahead by councillors. However, the development of the area must also include facilities for local communities, particularly teenagers, said Cllr McCamley. “We need to create communities rather than having people living behind closed doors.”

Sinn Féin councillor Breda Hanaphy says more Garda stations and resources are badly needed across the district, adding that people are “just really frightened” in light of a spate of shootings in the area in recent months. “We have a population similar to the whole of Limerick council, it’s like a city within a city, and only one Garda station. Everybody is so grateful to the gardaí, they do a fantastic job with what they have. But the community guards can’t do their job, it’s totally under resourced.”

Fine Gael councillor Puname Rane, who also lives in the locality, said people’s fears around safety were repeatedly raised as a major issue on door-steps during canvassing in the lead up to the recent local elections. “It’s natural that the community and obviously parents will feel petrified. These incidents should be tackled at grassroots level. We need to ask, why is this happening?”

Cllr McCamley agrees that the lack of gardaí on the streets makes people feel uncomfortable. “We have some fabulous community guards here but any time there’s another problem they’re moved away. We need more of them so people feel safer. That’s where it starts, confidence in our guards.”