Leo Varadkar horrified by attempts to ‘eliminate entire family’ in feud

Taoiseach questioned by Labour leader about inner city regeneration plan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he echoed the comments of Labour leader Brendan Howlin on the violent feud which has resulted in the deaths of 14 people in the past two years. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he echoed the comments of Labour leader Brendan Howlin on the violent feud which has resulted in the deaths of 14 people in the past two years. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed his horror at the Kinahan-Hutch gang feud and the attempts to “eliminate an entire family”.

Mr Varadkar said he echoed the comments of Labour leader Brendan Howlin on the violent feud which has resulted in the deaths of 14 people in the past two years, predominantly members of the Hutch family.

Mr Howlin said it was “extraordinary and quite shocking that a family is being targeted to the point of extinction”.

Mr Varadkar is due to visit Dublin’s north inner city, the central focus of the feud, towards the end of this month. He said he had visited the area three times in recent months as Taoiseach.

Mr Varadkar said “I echo the remarks of Deputy Howlin on the violence that has occurred in the northeast inner city and share his concern and horror at what has been going on in an attempt to eliminate an entire family”.

Questioned in the Dáil about the Government’s task force and regeneration plan for the north inner city, Mr Varadkar said it “seeks to bring transformational change to an area that has struggled with deprivation for many generations”.

Extraordinary problem

Mr Howlin said there was a genuine cross-party view that the task force should succeed but he said “the ongoing Hutch-Kinahan feud, so-called, is an extraordinary problem overshadowing potential progress”.

He described it as “the most serious criminal issue affecting any community in this country”.

Mr Howlin said the “centralisation and politicisation of the area is not working. It should not take major outbreaks of violence such as those we have witnessed in the past year or two for locally led development planning to return”.

He said funding was withdrawn in 2011 and 2012 from local drug task forces and area development committees because politicians did not like the “political colour” of some of those on the boards and “I do not mean, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party”.

‘Damage was done’

“A lot of damage was done and we are beginning to see some of the outcomes of this,” he said adding they should go back to the “tried and trusted models that did work but that need consistency and sustainability over a long period of time”.

Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh said the murder of a man last week off North Strand Road was the 14th in the feud and took place in a densely populated part of the city “already suffering significant and embedded social and economic challenges”.

Mr Ó Snodaigh asked if consideration had been given to replicating the model being used in the north inner city on the south side of the city “another area affected by part of this ongoing feud and a very similar area in terms of its make-up and lack of investment”.

Mr Varadkar told him it would be too soon to attempt to replicate the regeneration plan in other parts of the city.

When the work was done in the north inner city “we can do an assessment as to whether it was effective” and what worked or did not work. “Only then would it be appropriate to consider whether it is a good idea to extend the same approach to other areas.”