80 involved in Drogheda feud after 'implosion' of two criminal factions
Up to 80 people are now involved in feuding in Drogheda after two criminal factions who once worked together "imploded".
The Garda Chief Superintendent in Louth, Christy Mangan, said the additional resources allocated to Drogheda in the last week were "unprecedented" because the situation was unprecedented.
He was speaking on LMFM local radio after a meeting with Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris.
Earlier in the week, it was confirmed 25 more gardaí would be allocated to Drogheda, and the armed Emergency Response Unit have already been deployed there.
The feud is between two criminal gangs that he said "have imploded" and "are led by a small cohort but there are a considerable number of people behind them to carry out their violent acts on their behalf".
He said each side has the support of between 30 and 40 others.
He also said: "It has to be understood that both of these groups worked together for a considerable period of time [and] they were quite happy to continue on until one group started to attack and intimidate the other group."
In relation to the most recent shooting just over two weeks ago, when a gunman opened fire on a house, injuring a man in the front garden, he said "a lady was within inches of possibly losing her life".
The Chief Superintendent confirmed gardaí were prepared to talk to both sides to find some sort of resolution.
"It is a difficult area to deal with, I recognise it. I have done it before with criminals who fall out, but if there is a common ground reached, sometimes maybe the worst disputes can be sorted out, or else people can agree to put down their weapons and walk away.
"I have spoken to a number of the people involved in it and the message they give to me is they have a job to finish with each other.
"What I would say to them is that while they endeavour to inflict maximum damage on themselves, we will be arresting them, we certainly will be charging them. We will be bringing them before the courts and depending on the sentence, a number of them will end up in jail."
The Chief Superintendent said he explained to Mr Flanagan "the difficulties we face and I was very, very frank with him".
He said he would use the resources made available, "to put an end to all this".
"I can reassure the people of Drogheda I will put an end to it, it will take me a little bit of time, there will be some difficult times - I recognise that. But we have members, particularly in the Drogheda area, who have extensive experience dealing with serious criminals... we will be dealing with them very, very forcibly."
He pledged that the Fleadh, which takes place in August, would be safe. "I will be providing a service second to none for the Fleadh to make sure everybody is safe and we will have a fantastic week. It will be a very, very enjoyable week, and people will be safe."
Meanwhile, a rally titled 'Drogheda Stands Together Against Violence' will take place this afternoon on the steps of St Peter's Church in West Street.