Dublin’s north inner city lives in fear of gangland feud

Community senses that the Kinahan-Hutch dispute is different from the others

Local resident Paddy Egerton and community worker Sarah Kelleher at North Rutland Street in Dublin.

Local resident Paddy Egerton and community worker Sarah Kelleher at North Rutland Street in Dublin.

 

There have been other feuds, but there is a sense in Dublin’s north inner city that this, involving an assault on a much-liked local family, is different.

Few were minded to talk to media, but those that did spoke of how liked the Hutch family is and how “nearly everyone knows someone” either in the family or connected to them.

“Everyone is feeling it,” said one young man. “Everyone is worried someone of theirs is going to get hurt.”

On Champions Avenue, off Sean McDermott Street and just metres from where Gareth Hutch (35) was shot dead on Tuesday morning, not one person would talk about what was happening in the community.

Most who answered the door gave an excuse, such as that there was a new baby in the house or that they were cleaning, while others were explicit that journalists should “move along” and “get out of here”.

On a small cul-de-sac off Summerhill, just two doors were answered. David, a qualified engineer who is working in Ireland as a chef, said he had left Brazil to get away from the violence.

“Now, this is like Brazil, “ he said. “I think after the shooting in the hotel things got tense. It’s very bad. We call it Summerhell.”

Steel fence

Around the corner a row of local authority houses on Sean O’Casey Avenue overlook Summerhill.

A steel fence was placed across the avenue in 2007, stopping through access between Mountjoy Square and Summerhill. Erected by Dublin City Council at the request of gardaí, it has reportedly been effective in reducing antisocial behaviour.

However, say locals, people travel from across the city – including from affluent parts – to buy drugs at the “pill Mecca of Ireland”.

‘Up and down’

“It was very sad when it was up at the Regency but now the murders are on the doorstep. There was one up there at the Sunset House two weeks ago, and now this one over there yesterday.

“People are scared. The women are scared to go out. You’re hoping it’s going to blow over, but expecting another shooting at the same time.”

Paddy Egerton, a resident of Rutland Street for 50 years, says the area is “great, very safe” despite the violence.

“I think a lot of people can’t understand why this [Kinahan] gang from the south side are coming over here attacking the Hutches. That family are highly thought of.”

Some residents were angry when asked their thoughts on recent events. “Have you lived here all your life? No. So what’s it to you?” one woman asked.

A man walking a dog shrugged when asked how the community was. “It’s just two families going at each other isn’t it? We’re used to this around here. Let them at it and let us get on with our lives.”

Sarah Kelleher, director of the Lourdes Youth and Community Service on Rutland Street, says the open drug dealing “has never been this bad” in 20 years. The violence was breaking down community cohesion.

“This area is like a village, very close knit and people like to look out for each other. But people are afraid to go out, afraid to talk to each other, afraid to catch people’s eye or see something they shouldn’t. People are in fear.”

Shots fired

Young children were witnessing the fallout of the drugs crisis. “They see people being arrested, armed police everywhere, people being shot, shooters running away and the devastation after.”

Pat Gates, co-ordinator of the Young People At Risk, said anxiety among children had increased in the area.

“We are getting reports from the schools of increased anxiety, increased aggression. They are seeing it in their play, in their drawing, in what they’re talking about. This is a tinder box affecting everyone.”

Anna Quigley of the Inner City Organisation Network hopes authorities will recognise this feud is different.

“This is a local family and it seems there is a plan to wipe them out. People are really frightened,” she said.

“We need not only increased policing, but we need recognition that at the root of this is the drug trade and at the root of that is 30 years of neglect.”

She cited cuts of up to 40 and 50 per cent since 2008 to community development projects, youth services as well as deep cuts to lone parent supports.

“All of this is causing and exacerbating the devastation of the drugs crisis. We need an economic plan for the area as well as a policing plan.”