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Innocent children and women caught up in Drogheda gang feud

Threats now being exchanged on social media

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Teenager Keane Mulready-Woods

Teenager Keane Mulready-Woods

Teenager Keane Mulready-Woods

Innocent women and children associated with gang members caught up in the Drogheda feud are being threatened via social media.

The daughter of one gang member was reportedly followed, while local people in the community affected by the feud say children have also been threatened.

The woman, who has been intimidated in the past, was followed by men suspected of being involved in the feud. She is an innocent blood relative of a gang member.

Gardai have mounted armed patrols to keep the two gangs apart since the murder of 17-year-old Keane Mulready-Woods in the town's Rathmullan Park. The police presence has been successful in forcing gang members off the streets, but gardai say threats are now being exchanged on social media.

Fr Phil Gaffney, the parish priest in Saint Mary's Parish, said attempts to mediate in the feud have proved "complex". Several community and religious leaders offered to intervene by speaking directly to the rival gangs. There are now too many gangs involved, with each of rival gangs aligned to other crime groupings that have become embedded in the conflict.

"It is too complex at the moment," said Fr Gaffney. "Our focus is on those who are affected in the community, the families, the children. The broader issue of trying to resolve the feud is maybe further down the line."

The search continues for the partial remains of Keane Mulready-Woods. His limbs were dumped in a holdall on a housing estate in Coolock, north Dublin, his severed head was found days later in a burning car in the city. His torso is missing, and his remains have yet to be released to his family.

Gardai searched an area close to Oldbridge in Co Meath last week as well as sports grounds in Drogheda.

Gardai are also investigating reports that women caught up in the gang culture are being subjected to sexual assault and intimidation following a report in this newspaper last weekend.

Two detectives met Pio Smith, an addiction counsellor and also a Labour Party councillor in Drogheda, who said he has "direct knowledge" of three young women who were sexually exploited by dealers. Mr Smith said the women may still be caught in drug debt or drug addiction and are not willing to report the crimes.

Grace McArdle, director of Rape Crisis North East, meanwhile suggested last week that the nature of sexual violence incidents reported to its counsellors was increasingly challenging. "What I can say is that we have found that counsellors in that area are dealing with more traumatic cases and more difficult cases in the last few months," she said.

The feud has had a significant impact on the local communities, with both sides responsible for violent attacks on the streets in public view.

The murder of Keith Brannigan last year - the first killing of the feud - was witnessed by children in a car hit by a stray bullet. A pregnant woman was forced to dive to the ground for shelter. Mulready-Woods is the third victim of the feud.

Sunday Independent


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