Neighbours intimidated to stay silent after shooting of Sean Scully
Intimidation is forcing people to remain silent about the shooting of six-year-old Sean Scully, said a garda superintendent.
Superintendent Brendan Connolly made a public plea for people to defy threats and give gardai information about the shooting of the little boy in Cherry Orchard in Dublin.
Sean was left with no feeling from the chest down after being hit by a stray bullet in a botched gun attack on a man near his home at Croftwood Gardens on June 13. The culprits are still at large.
"It's not being a rat to protect your family," declared the senior garda.
Superintendent Connolly made an impassioned plea for residents to break the wall of silence that often hampers garda investigations.
Officers have been "met with silence" locally, he said.
"But if anyone needs a wake-up call, then this shooting should act as a watershed moment.".
Speaking at a recent Joint Policing Meeting in Ballyfermot, he said local people should help gardai tackle thugs who were "running things and telling people what to say."
At the meeting, reported by The Echo newspaper, he said: "One or two individuals are knocking into houses and intimidating people to keep quiet.
"We have responded to serious assaults, but when we go there, we are met with silence.
"If we are being cow-tied by one or two people telling people what to say and what not to say to gardai, then something is seriously wrong."
One thug involved in intimidation was arrested and his prison sentence was reactivitated.
Superintendent Connolly wished to assure residents they could speak to gardai anonymously.
"All of us together, we can change it," he said.
He added: "It's your community and it's time for people to work with gardai."
His plea was supported by local priest Fr Gerry O'Connor who urged closer cooperation between the community and gardai.
Fr O'Connor told the Herald: "I encourage people to share information appropriately.
A community can bring moral pressure in these situations.
"If everybody could only take their courage in their hands.
"Our challenge is for people to think as one community."
He urged more regular meetings between gardai and the local community so that gardai could hear and respond to what people want.
Allowing the community to identify their most pressing local problems can improve the situation. This would help tackle "mistrust," said the priest.
The shooting caused "utter exasperation." It had left a scar in the community and "a level of tension."
Those involved in the shooting would be known in the West Dublin area, he said.
Fr O'Connor said the Scully family are "utterly consumed" with caring for Sean. Their whole life "revolves around" caring for Sean.
Extensive rehabilitation is needed on his damaged spine.
The community have responded generously with fundraisers. Local children were selling their toys at sales of work to help Sean and his family, he said.
"Everybody's hoping that Sean will get well," he said.