Monday 18 November 2019

Neighbour shuts store claiming town too unsafe

Sisters Mary Kate (9) and Sarah (7) lay flowers with mother Ann
Sisters Mary Kate (9) and Sarah (7) lay flowers with mother Ann
Hafiz Farooq, who was attacked in the shop he runs next door to the brothers’ home
Gardai at the house of Tom and Jack Blaine in Castlebar, Co Mayo.
Teresa Dunne a relative of the late Tom and Jack Blaine been comforted at a rosary in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

Greg Harkin

A NEIGHBOUR of murdered brothers Jack and Tom Blaine is closing his shop after being viciously beaten just four weeks ago.

Father-of-three Hafiz Farooq has started a 'closing down' sale at his clothes store next door to the Blaine home because "it's no longer safe" in Castlebar.

"I only opened up three months ago and I knew the gentlemen next door very well," said Hafiz, a former police officer in Pakistan.

"Jack and Tom were two gentle people and I still don't believe they are dead. It is dreadful."

The 36-year-old says he can no longer work at 'Minsas' shop after the attack on him on June 18 and the deaths of his neighbours. "I got a terrible beating," said softly-spoken Hafiz.

"It was in the afternoon and a man and a woman came in. One of them, the woman, grabbed clothes from the rails and the man hit me in the face so hard I fell to the ground. It was terrible, I was in shock.

"We have been plagued by thieves from the moment I started the business. I went to the Taoiseach's office to complain and I was told they were doing everything they could."

The Pakistani national arrived in Westport 11 years ago before moving to Castlebar four years ago.

"I was a police officer in Pakistan and I know the gardai here don't have the resources to tackle the crime that is happening here in Castlebar," he said.

"I want to keep the business going but my wife won't allow it. She says it is too dangerous.

"My father called from Pakistan and he ordered me to shut the shop, so that is what I'm doing. Two gentlemen have been murdered, I have been attacked and it is not safe for me to stay and work in Castlebar."


He said running his business for the past three months had been "a nightmare".

"After the attack I had to close the shop for two weeks to recover. I'm back here now to put up signs to say we are closing.

"We had people coming to the shop almost every day and all they are interested in was stealing. They were here so often we got used to seeing them.

"The gardai have done their best but no one has been arrested for the attack on me yet, but I think they are hopeful they will get the people responsible.

"My heart is very sad for the Blaine family; but I can't stay here any more."

Irish Independent

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