New generation of Irish criminals ‘want blood and have no conscience’

Dáil hears crime warning amid discussion of the escalating violence in Drogheda

The regional Armed Support Unit will be involved in  Garda operations in Co Louth amid a gang feud there. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The regional Armed Support Unit will be involved in Garda operations in Co Louth amid a gang feud there. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

A new generation of violent criminals are coming up “who want blood and have no conscience in maiming or killing”, the Dáil has been warned.

As Garda operations intensify in Drogheda, Co Louth, to deal with a feud there between two criminal gangs, local TDs have called for a significant increase in the number of gardaí in the town, including in experienced personnel, as well as proper resourcing of community policing and youth diversionary projects.

The issue of the violence was raised in the Dáil in the wake of a sharp increase in attacks in Drogheda and in jails in recent weeks over the feud, including the beating and stabbing of a man last weekend, arson attacks and a pipe-bomb attack.

Following the cancelling of all Garda leave in Co Louth for the next fortnight, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan told the Dáil on Wednesday that the regional Armed Support Unit would supplement high-visibility patrols in the area.

Community policing units, district detective and drugs units and divisional roads policing units would also be involved.

A CCTV camera is seen watching over the 
Moneymore estate in Drogheda, Co Louth, which has seen an increase in violence recently Photograph: James Forde
A CCTV camera is seen watching over the Moneymore estate in Drogheda, Co Louth, which has seen an increase in violence recently Photograph: James Forde

Local Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach said that where previously gardaí only had to deal with “bangers and stones” they were now dealing with firearms.

He said he had met individuals caught up “in incredible fear and intimidation who had been sucked in, some relatively innocently, to the crossfire of these vicious criminals.

“Many of these young people have never come to the attention of An Garda Síochána, and more continue to be sucked into the criminal underworld.”

Some caught up in this criminality have had to emigrate, while their families “continue to be intimidated by the gangs seeking retribution for the debts they have cleverly and deliberately made sure . . . accrued to secure false loyalty of these young people and expansion of their criminal activities”.

Mr Breathnach said that “a generation is coming up who already have some involvement in this criminal underworld through their siblings”.

He added: “We’ve 20-year-olds who want blood and have no conscience in maiming or killing.”

Mr Breathnach said “more boots on the ground” were needed to stop drug barons having free rein in the area.

‘Sleepless nights’

Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd, who is from Drogheda, said there were 52 more gardaí in Dundalk than in his hometown, even though the towns were the same size.

“The fear must be in the bedroom of the criminal, not [in] the ordinary citizens who are passing sleepless nights in some parts of our town.”

Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that victims of attacks in the area in many cases “are victims of unscrupulous and dangerous drugs pushers who are targeting them for drug debts that are not theirs”.

He said that in one case a demand for €11,000 was made of a family. He said there are five community gardaí in Drogheda and six in Dundalk, numbers that had not increased since 2013.

Mr Adams called on the Minister to fund the setting up of a specialist drugs unit for Co Louth which he had previously promised.

Mr Flanagan said: “This type of criminal behaviour has no place in a civilised society. It will not be tolerated. An Garda Síochána have overcome similar challenges in the past. They will do so again.”

He said An Garda Síochána “will continue to make every effort to disrupt activities of any group involved in these incidents to arrest and prosecute offenders”.