INNOCENT people caught in crossfire as pipe bombs among weapons used by warring drug dealers
Armed gardai have been on duty throughout the last week in south inner Dublin where a new feud between drug gangs is threatening to turn lethal.
A pipe bomb exploded on Wednesday night in the area, causing damage to the home of an innocent family who are believed to have been mistaken for one involved in the feud. The same evening, the Army's Ordnance Corps also dealt with two hoax bombs believed to be linked to the feuding gangs.
The gangs include a number of teenagers who have access to weapons and who are involved in a stand-off in adjoining neighbourhoods in the south inner city.
The feuding is focused in the Basin Street flats, which were due for demolition and redevelopment under urban regeneration of the inner city but are to remain because of budget cuts. Last October, an innocent young couple delivering takeaway food to the flats were fired on by teenage gang members who thought they were members of a rival gang. Shots passed through the car but the driver and his girlfriend were unhurt.
The couple were fired on after a violent confrontation in the flats complex earlier in the evening which caused gardai to swamp the area and bring about some calm.
Gardai have identified members of at least three criminal families who appear to be at the centre of the feuding. Several arrests have been made and gardai are mounting nightly patrols of armed officers, part of the task force deployment used to counter armed criminals.
The origins of this new feud – which is not linked to the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud which has claimed 17 lives in the past 12 years – are uncertain but local sources say it appears to have begun with fighting between teenaged gang members. One side is connected with a criminal family who control a considerable amount of the drugs supply in the south inner city and provide drugs to dealers further out into the southern suburb of Dun Laoghaire.
Opposing this set of criminals is another gang linked to a family living between the inner city and the Crumlin-Drimnagh area. Gardai have had this family and their associates under close scrutiny as its teenaged members have been involved in violence, including drive-by shootings in the Drimnagh area in the past year. They are also supported by another notorious family from Inchicore
This new feud adds further to the instability in Dublin's organised crime scene which has been very tense since last September's assassination of the dissident republican boss, Alan Ryan, and the murder of the leading criminal figure, 65-year-old Eamon Kelly, last month. Gardai have discovered that both sides in this feud have drawn up hitlists of intended targets and have issued warnings to figures on both sides.
And gardai are also having to contend with a potential outbreak of further hostility following a violent row in a pub in south inner Dublin last Wednesday night involving the gangland figure, Freddie Thompson. He has been in Dublin since before Christmas, having been granted bail in Spain where he is facing gang-related charges. It is understood Thompson is due to return to Spain this week. During the fighting in the pub, two women were assaulted and one had her nose broken.
Gang feuding in the south inner city appears to have become endemic and is drawing in younger and younger members of the families involved. Gardai have had to deploy officers to one local school where teenage members of the gangs involved are reported to have been carrying weapons in case of attack.