THE bloody Limerick feud is driven by hatred, revenge, alcohol and drugs, according to Chief Supt Willie Keane, head of the Limerick Garda division.
“These are the main causes and they have not changed over the years. That hate and vengeance underlines it,” he said.
He said that while up to 50 people involved in the feud were now serving long sentences, due to garda successes, the ‘cure’ rested with the people who are involved.
“If they stepped back and saw where it is leading to: it has led to people being killed, people being seriously injured, people serving long sentences of imprisonment. The knock on of all this is the trauma for all and sundry. The breaking up of family through death of people serving sentences. There are no winners in this feud situation. The past will show that and it’s totally within the control of the people involved to desist from this,” said Chief Supt Keane.
Feuding gangs are main players in the Limerick drugs scene and in the past 12 months, gardaí have seized drugs with a street value in excess of more than €5 million - well over twice the amount seized in 2004.
Chief Supt Keane said: “This gives an indication of the amount of drugs being distributed in the area.”
He said that while gardaí can say they are doing well to double the amount of seizures of drugs, it gives an indication of the ‘amount of stuff in circulation as well’.
“We can’t get complacent because we have seized double the amount we seized last year.”
While there had been some increase in the amount of heroin coming into Limerick, cocaine had significantly increased on the streets. He would be concerned that some people would regard taking cocaine as being ‘cool’.
“Some of these drugs would be considered by some of these people as recreational, but I think that is very worrying. We have to emphasise the health aspect of this, and when you have intelligent, highly-educated people using drugs, where does that leave us with the health message,” said Chief Supt Keane.
“We are involved in the enforcement (of the law), but there is more to enforcement involved in tackling the drugs problem. When you have highly intelligent and well-educated people using these drugs, where is the education message getting through there or the health message?”
The use of guns in senseless attacks was also a matter of concern to Limerick gardaí, he said.
Chief Supt Keane said that during the year, there had been a substantial increase in the number of shooting incidents in the city.
He said there was a disproportionate number of shootings in Limerick compared to other centres of population.
He said more than 30 firearms recovered during the year included weapons ranging from submachine guns, pistols, sawn-off shotguns and rifles. He said powerful automatic weaponry was brought into Limerick with drugs consignments.
“If criminals have mechanisms to bring in drugs, then firearms can be brought in.”
A lot of these guns, he said, come from Eastern Europe.
“During the year, we have had about 70 shootings. A lot of those would be shots through the doors and windows of houses with nobody injured. Others unfortunately led to injury and some are related to feuding incidents between families.
“It is a sign of the way society has gone. Some people resort to this type of response.”
He said he was pleased with investigations in the Limerick Garda division into two separate murders this year which claimed the lives of David Nunan and Darren Coughlan.
Chief Supt Keane said the conviction of James Martin Cahill for the murder of night club security manager Brian Fitzgerald was a major success.
“That was a culmination since the murder in 2002. Our investigations into that murder are ongoing and I would anticipate more arrests.”
He said prior to the murder of David Nunan, there had been a period of 14 months without a violent death.
Chief Supt Keane said the use of armed patrols in the city over a number of years had played a part in reducing the number of violent deaths which were averaging up to seven a year five years ago.