Tuesday 17 September 2019

Branigan murder was 'callous act'

Drogheda's ongoing feud spread to the quiet village of Clogherhead and the murder of Keith Branigan. Gardai say that the fight against the crime gangs continues on a daily basis

The discovery of a murder getaway car in an Ardee housing estate could hold the key to finding those responsible for the killing of Keith Branigan (29) at the Ashling Caravan Park last week.

The black Toyota Avensis (04 WH 8024) was found abandoned in the Clonmore Estate (right), just off Hale Street and has been the subject of an intense forensic examination.

An appeal has been made to motorists and residents in the Dunleer and Ardee area in relation to the horror shooting in Clogherhead.

Ballsgrove man and former St Nicholas GAA player Keith Branigan was shot dead as he worked on decking at the front of a caravan

The incident took place around 2.50pm on Tuesday with two people believed to be in the vehicle.

His killer made their escape in a red Lexus (05 C 24473) which was later found burnt out on the road at Whiteriver, on the Dunleer to Collon road. The suspects are then believed to have then transferred into the second vehicle, the black Toyota Avensis. Gardai are unsure what direction the killer went after that before the car was abandoned in Clonmore.

Motorists who may have dashcam footage are asked to contact Drogheda Garda Station on 041 987 4200, The Garda Confidential Line on 18000 666 111 or any Garda Station.

Supt Andrew Watters addressed the media in the aftermath of the killing. "It was a particularly indiscriminate and callous act carried out in a very busy caravan park. There were a lot of families, women with young children in particular, close to the area of the shooting. A number of stray shots caused damage to two cars in the vicinity of the car park,' he stated.

The area was sealed off for up to 24 hours, only the those staying in the caravan park allowed to return.

While the slaying is the first murder in the long running local feud, the gardai have had an operation in place for almost two years in relation to organised crime in the locality.

"I would like to reassure the public of Drogheda and surrounding areas, we made a number of very significant detections, arrests, prosecutions and we have people before the courts on some very serious charges and strict bail conditions," the supt said. "I would like to reassure the public that the operation is ongoing.'

He said he had received additional resources in Drogheda Garda station in the last two months under Operation Stratus and also has the support of regional units and the armed support units as well as national units.

"I would like to reassure the public that every effort is being made to protect the people of Drogheda through this operation."

The killing of Keith Branigan sparked a strong political reaction, with Louth TD Imelda Munster reiterating her call for Gardaí to put the main suspects in the Drogheda feud under 24 hour surveillance.

Ms Munster said the people of Clogherhead were 'deeply shocked' by the events and she had spoken to her party colleague and Louth councillor, Cllr. Tom Cunningham, who lives in the area.

She said last week's shooting had sent 'shockwaves' through the close-knit community in the village.

'People in Drogheda are of the belief this 'feud' is nowhere near over and won't be until the instigators are arrested and charged. Frustration has set in with local people are these culprits appear to act without fear of being caught.

'I have previously and repeatedly called for round the clock surveillance and I reiterate the call again. It appears that is only way to monitor their every move and curtail their drug dealing and to prevent further attacks and shootings'.

Councillor Tom Cunningham remarked, "residents are shocked and appalled that something like this should happen in the picturesque fishing village of Clogherhead. There is no place in our community or indeed any community for people who carry out attacks such as these. It happened in broad daylight, on a day when there were visitors and residents out and about enjoying the last few days before the end of the holidays.

'The shooting took place beside a very busy caravan park and shop which shows a worrying lack of regard for the people of the area."

Drogheda Independent