Monday 21 May 2018

Calls for more gardai to stop gangs after city Facebook mob mayhem

Shoppers walking along Dublin's Henry Street
Shoppers walking along Dublin's Henry Street

Alan O'Keeffe

Urgent calls have been made for a garda crackdown on teenage gangs using social media to arrange street fights and group battles in the capital.

Shoppers and businesses are being terrorised by rival gangs  who are using Facebook to meet up for confrontations.

City council members last night called for immediate action to tackle the scourge of violence linked to social media.

Rival gangs of teenagers, totalling more than 200 youths, were involved in a “mini riot” on Mary Street on St Stephen’s Day. It had been arranged through Facebook.

Fear gripped crowds of shoppers on the busy street as innocent bystanders were attacked and shop workers threatened at knifepoint.

Several people were injured and, at one point, shops locked their doors to protect the customers inside.

Two rival groups of teenagers, mainly from Blanchardstown and Tallaght, arranged the bust-up and a number of fights among the teenagers were filmed and shown on Snapchat.

City councillor Nial Ring, a member of the Dublin Central Joint Policing Committee, told the Herald: “More gardai are needed on the streets now. Business people are trying to make a living and young people can’t be allowed to be running around out of control.

“There are 130 fewer gardai on the beat in the city centre because of cutbacks.

“Gardai can’t effectively police these mass activities without proper manpower.

“Gardai will need to monitor Facebook and Snapchat to identify the perpetrators and liaise with their colleagues in Tallaght and Blanchardstown.”

City councillor and former Lord Mayor Christy Burke, who is also on the policing committee, said: “Gardai in the inner city are already very busy policing the gangland feuds without having to deal with this as well.

“This behaviour could get more out of hand if other young people start to follow suit. Gardai have to deal with this problem rapidly.”

Councillor Ray McAdam, the Fine Gael chairman of the policing committee, said: “I have already raised the issue of social media-organised violence with the gardai. It’s a growing problem that must be tackled.”

A sales assistant in a Mary Street shop said many youths “ran up the street at the same time and they were filming themselves with their phones”.

“Later, the staff locked the doors of the shop for the safety of the customers inside. The customers didn’t want to leave the shop because they didn’t feel safe,” she said.

An assistant manageress of another shop said: “We heard it was all arranged on Facebook – a crowd of kids meeting up for a fight.”

“This group has been causing absolute havoc in the city over the last few weeks,” said a source.

“They’ve been threatening security staff with knives and just being a general nuisance.

“What occurred on St Stephen’s Day was far worse, though.”

Herald

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