Saturday 21 September 2019

Government response to feud 'sadly lacking' from start: senator

Ged Nash: The senator said not enough was done early enough. Picture: Tom Burke
Ged Nash: The senator said not enough was done early enough. Picture: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The Government has been accused of "not doing enough, early enough" to crack down on the Drogheda gang feud.

The claim was made by Senator Ged Nash who argued that the gang war was raging for months before extra Garda resources were deployed to the town. It comes after Keith Branigan (30) was gunned down near Clogherhead, Co Louth, on Tuesday.

Mr Nash said there's "enormous fear" of further violence and intimidation in Drogheda and has called for a response comparable to the one that tackled Limerick's gang war a decade ago.

He claimed that the Government response was "sadly lacking" until a "brazen daylight gun attack" in April. This prompted extra Garda resources to be deployed.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan visited the town to reassure residents the conduct of a "small number of thugs will not be tolerated". Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said at the time gardaí were determined to end the violence.

Mr Nash pointed out that the feud kicked off in July 2018 and claimed gardaí were "seriously under-resourced in terms of personnel and vehicles" until April.

According to Mr Nash, the Government "didn't do enough, early enough". He said Mr Flanagan "can't have it both ways" in appearing alongside Mr Harris in Drogheda while also arguing that the deployment of resources is a matter for gardaí.

Last night, the Department of Justice said Mr Flanagan is continuing to monitor the situation in Louth "very closely".

He is said to be "determined to ensure An Garda Síochána has all the necessary resources needed to bring those involved in criminality to justice as soon as possible".

It said that the Garda Commissioner has deployed an extra 150 gardaí to the region and the operation to tackle the feud involves "high-visibility patrols and checkpoints" and initiatives like covert policing.

It said the additional resources come at a time of "record investment" in the force, which has a budget of €1.76bn this year.

Irish Independent

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