Shootings in Limerick make up 30% of all reported cases

UP to 30% of all shootings in the country now occur in Limerick, the city’s garda chief said last night.

As gardaí made more gun seizures in Limerick yesterday, Chief Superintendent Willie Keane, head of the Limerick garda division which takes in the city and county and a small part of Clare, said the number of shooting incidents was a growing concern.

Although the population represents about 1.5% of the country, some 25%-30% of all shooting incidents take place in Limerick. While the number of shootings was down last year on 2005, he said they still represented between 25% and 30% of all reported shooting incidents in the State.

However, Chief Supt Keane said increased garda operations were meeting with ongoing success in countering the gun menace.

In Moyross yesterday a sawn-off shotgun and a powerful semi automatic hand gun were discovered by garda search parties. On Wednesday, another sawn-off shotgun was found concealed in a car stopped by a patrol in the same area. Two men have been arrested.

Last year Limerick gardaí had seized more than 80 illegally held firearms, many high power semi automatic weapons and large amounts of ammunition.

In the most recent shooting, the family of a former Sinn Féin Dáil candidate, who herself was shot four months ago, came under gunfire attack yesterday.

One of her sons was hit by a number of bullets as he stood in the kitchen of the family home in Moyross.

Karl Shapland, who is in his mid-20s, was hit by bullets in the wrist and arm when a gunman opened fire through a back window. He was taken to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital.

His injuries are not life threatening.

The attack was carried out about 12.15am.

His mother, Jenny Shapland, who ran for Sinn Féin, was shot and wounded by a gunman last September and their house was badly damaged in a fire bomb attack about the same time.

Shortly before yesterday’s attack a girl, who was in the Shapland house, answered a knock at the front door and was confronted by a man who pointed a gun at her.

Minutes later shots were fired through a rear window. Gardaí believed the attack was linked to a local feud.

Another son of Ms Shapland was jailed for five years at Limerick Circuit Court last July for firing a gun at a marked garda patrol car which went to Moyross to investigate a traffic accident.

Shane Shapland, aged 22, discharged a sawn-off shotgun and pellets peppered the patrol car, narrowly missing a number of gardaí. Some time prior to the shooting, gardaí found bullets in a search of Shapland’s bedroom.

At Limerick District Court yesterday a 27-year-old man appeared on a charge of having a sawn-off shotgun on Wednesday in Moyross.

The court was told that the weapon was found in a car in which the accused, Jason Ryan of Pineview Gardens, was travelling.

He was remanded in custody to January 25.

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