Drive-by shooting follows cuts in overtime for gardai
Garda armed units patrolling Dublin in the aftermath of the Regency Hotel attack were withdrawn after, it is claimed, extra overtime allowances ended.
Last week, prior to the latest drive-by gun attack outside a fast-food outlet in Finglas on Friday night, gardai were predicting an upturn in attacks.
One source said: "They [the gangs] are not blind. They'll see the patrols are gone now the overtime is dried up."
One of the shots from the burst of gunfire fired outside the Charlestown Shopping Centre in Finglas narrowly missed a child sitting in a car belonging to an innocent family hit by one of the bullets.
It is believed the intended victim was a known associate of one of the south Dublin gangs caught up in the major feud that was sparked by the murder of top southside criminal David Byrne in the Regency attack on February 5.
The gang responsible opened fire outside the northside Dublin retail complex which was busy with families shopping and buying take-away food from the KFC and McDonald's restaurants at 6.15pm on Friday.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Garda Press Office appealed for any help from witnesses.
The garda statement read: "The incident occurred in the car park close to a number of fast food outlets at Charlestown Shopping Centre, Finglas.
"A man discharged a firearm a number of times before fleeing the scene as a passenger in a silver coloured Volkswagen Golf, registration number 02 MH 7775. This car was later located burnt out, at Shancastle Estate, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, and has been removed for technical examination.
"The man was wearing a balaclava and is not better described. The driver of the Volkswagen Golf is also believed to be male."
The attack comes after the murder on February 29 of dissident republican-criminal figure Vincent Ryan (25) in the Finglas-Ballymun area.
Gardai are now concerned that the criminal gangs will carry out further attacks once they are satisfied that garda patrolling has returned to the pre-Regency attack levels. The extra overtime allocated to the city effectively ended after the Easter commemoration when all garda leave in Dublin was cancelled over concerns of more gangland and possible dissident republican violence.
The Garda Press Office asked anyone with information about Friday night's attack at Charlestown Shopping Centre to contact Finglas Garda Station. The attack is officially a 'discharge of firearm' investigation.
Gardai have made arrests but as yet have brought no charges in relation to the Regency attack or the subsequent murders of Vincent Ryan, Mr Eddie Hutch (58) who was shot at his home in Ballybough, Dublin on February 25, and of Noel Duggan (58), who was shot dead at his home in Ratoath, Co Meath on March 23.
Following the Regency attack, the Government pledged an 'additional' €5m in overtime money for gardai, an amount that would have covered only a couple of weeks of extra policing in Dublin, according to garda sources.
During the run-up to Easter the armed garda units carried out high-profile patrolling in areas where members of the warring gangs are known to live or frequent.
This, gardai say, prevented further bloodshed, but they say that current levels of policing in the city are insufficient to deal with what they say could be the worst gang feud in the history of the State.
The two gangs are effectively cartels responsible for the importation of most of the opiate, cocaine and cannabis being sold in the State.
Both groups, who are based on opposite sides of the Liffey, are also heavily armed.