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Sunday 25 September 2016

'If officers stop you and ask a question, you could be branded an informer'

Published 28/05/2016 | 14:25

"If you live your life in fear, you're letting these people win," one resident said.

Mothers in Dublin's north inner city have told of their dread of witnessing a murder or being caught in a hail of bullets as they walk their children to school.

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Speaking near the car park in front of Avondale House where Gareth Hutch was murdered on Tuesday morning, they said there is a tension and nervousness on the streets, and even their children are afraid.

At the junction of Gardiner Street and Parnell Street, local woman Joanne Whelan was taking her seven-year-old daughter to school and wheeling a pram with an infant in it.

"I'm nervous. You just don't know what you're going to see or what might happen in front of you. The person passing you on the street might be the next target," she said.

"It could be anybody on any day. The last one happened early in the morning around the corner from here."

As she spoke, her young daughter added her own comment.

"I'm terrified - of the police," she said.

Joanne said it is not only the fallout from the Hutch-Kinahan feud she fears, but the wider violence associated with drug addiction and debt that has left the streets a battlefield.

"In the last three months alone I've seen a fella with a knife one day and another with a baseball bat at this junction," she said.

"I've seen cars doing handbrake turns and lads jumping out of them going after people."

One man who did not want to be named said he feared being an innocent victim of a murder.

He is also afraid of being branded a "rat" or an informer if he is stopped by the gardai and someone else sees him being quizzed and mistakenly believes he is giving information.

"If a garda patrol is asking who you are and where you're going you have to answer them, but that could be taken up the wrong way to somebody who might see you from a distance," he said.

"I've lived here all my life and I've seen the scourge of drugs and what it has done to the community, but this is the worst I've ever seen it."

Local Independent councillor Christy Burke said there is a paranoia within the community.

"People are afraid because the killings are random and can happen day or night, yet they're also afraid to talk to the gardai. It's understandable, I suppose, but it's a fact," he said.

There are others who say they will not let fear dictate how they live their lives.

Pamela Singh was waiting for her bus on Parnell Street, around the corner from where Gareth Hutch was shot dead on Tuesday morning.

"If you live your life in fear, you're letting these people win," she said.

"I can't see the point in worrying. There's risks in everything we do, but you have to live your life."

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