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Friday 24 January 2020

Innocent taxi driver shot twice in the back as gunman targets key figure in gangland feud

Man lucky to be alive after being caught up in violence

Probe: Garda Technical Bureau officers at the scene where a man was shot in a taxi on the Bridge of Peace in Drogheda. Photo: Frank McGrath
Probe: Garda Technical Bureau officers at the scene where a man was shot in a taxi on the Bridge of Peace in Drogheda. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ken Foy, Robin Schiller and Ian Begley

An innocent taxi driver was last night lucky to escape with his life after being caught up in the deadly Drogheda feud.

The victim, aged in his late 30s, was shot twice in the back while sitting in his car on the Bridge of Peace in the town shortly after 6pm yesterday.

The taxi man was not the intended target and instead gardaí believe he had the "grave misfortune" of taking a fare from an under-threat hitman moments earlier.

The volatile criminal who was the intended target is a leading member of the so-called anti-Maguire faction and has been linked to a number of gun attacks, including an attempted murder last February. The 24-year-old has been a prime target for the mob led by Owen Maguire.

The gangland target, who is on bail for a number of offences, was on his way to the town's Garda station to sign on as part of his bail conditions when the gunman struck.

The shooting took place during rush hour when a dark-coloured car pulled up alongside the taxi and shots were fired though the window, hitting the innocent driver.

The intended target and his girlfriend, who was with him in the taxi, both made their way to the Garda station for safety following the shooting.

A senior source told the Irish Independent: "This taxi driver is completely innocent, he simply took a fare off an under-threat individual and unfortunately he has now suffered serious gunshot wounds."

A burnt-out car was found near the town a short time later. It is thought that this car was used in the gun attack.

In recent days, gardaí had received intelligence of an outbreak of violence being directed by the Maguire faction against their rivals, which led to detectives carrying out additional patrols.

On Saturday, a 20-year-old linked to the anti-Maguire gang was the target of an apparent attack after claiming he was shot at near his home.

He is an associate of the target of last night's gun attack and both are currently facing charges for the same offence.

There have been a number of murders and attempted killings linked to the Drogheda feud.

Last August, Keith Branigan (29), a member of the crime group feuding with associates of Eoin Maguire (35), was shot dead outside a caravan park in Clogherhead.

In July 2018, Maguire was shot and seriously injured. The following April his brother Brendan Maguire survived an attempt on his life at the M1 Retail Park in Drogheda.

A local woman told the Irish Independent last night how she heard a number of loud bangs as she walked through the centre of town,

"When I heard it I knew perfectly well what it was," she said.

"It's like everyone who lives here is constantly on high alert. You just don't know what's going to happen next."

Irish Independent

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