Latest: Gardaí in Drogheda cancel leave in bid to tackle vicious gang feud

Garda decisions to cancel leave and ease stringent controls on overtime in Co Louth reflect the “seriousness and urgency” of the situation in Drogheda, senior officers have said.

Latest: Gardaí in Drogheda cancel leave in bid to tackle vicious gang feud

Update 10pm: Four men arrested in connection with an incident in the Moneymore Estate, Drogheda, Co Louth on Sunday have this evening been released without charge.

A file will now be prepared for the information of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

A fifth man remains in Garda custody this evening.

Digital Desk

By Cormac O'Keefe

Update 6.30pm: Garda decisions to cancel leave and ease stringent controls on overtime in Co Louth reflect the “seriousness and urgency” of the situation in Drogheda, senior officers have said.

The town is hit by a vicious gang feud, with some eight incidents since Thursday, most recently the kidnap and slashing of a 22-year-old male by a five-man torture gang on Sunday night.

Gardaí said no new leave will be granted in the division for the next week to 10 days and members will be requested to work some of their rest days - all in a bid to keep as many gardaí as possible on the streets, backed up by specialist armed units.

While the incidents, many of them involving petrol bomb attacks and car explosions, have taken part in different parts of the town, much of the feud has centred on the Moneymore estate on the northern outskirts.

A spate of incidents between Thursday night and Friday morning escalated on Sunday afternoon when an explosive device was placed in the exhaust of a car belonging to a girlfriend of an associate of one of the gangs.

Gardaí were alerted when smoke was seen coming out of the car, which was parked on a busy street in the town centre.

The Army bomb disposal team was called and made the device safe.

This attack is believed to have been carried out by associates of a gang boss who was seriously injured in a gun attack last July.

At 9pm, a car with gas canisters inside exploded outside a boxing club in Moneymore.

Some 30 minutes later, members of the Armed Support Unit, acting on intelligence, raided a house in the town and discovered a naked man, covered in blood, in a bath.

He had been repeatedly slashed and beaten.

A five-man gang had just fled to a neighbouring house.

After a short siege, they were arrested by the ASU.

They are thought to be members of the rival gang and were detained under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

The kidnapped youth, from Dundalk, suffered severe injuries but they were described as non-life threatening.

There was another arson attack on Monday night and gardaí are investigating if it is connected or not.

Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan made the decision regarding cancelling new leave.

The move to bring gardaí in on their rest days, paid on overtime, would have required sanction by the regional commissioner, as per Commissioner Harris's stringent new rules on overtime.

Garda sources said the decisions "reflect the seriousness and urgency of the situation".

Chief Supt Mangan told local radio LMFM that he has also put “extra patrols” in the area.

He said: "This is taking place in order to make sure the gangs involved are dealt with and will be dealt with very firmly by An Garda Síochána”.

He said the two sides were "intent on causing harm to each other".

Earlier: Call for long-term garda activity on criminal gangs in Drogheda, more resources

Update 1.45pm: A Labour councillor in Drogheda is calling for the gardaí to be properly resourced for the long term to continue their efforts to combat an ongoing feud between two criminal gangs.

Cllr Pio Smith says that while the gardaí have “really stepped up” to deal with the issue, if the force had been properly resourced then a number of incidents would not have occurred in recent months such as an attempted murder.

The scene near St Mary’s Church on the Dublin Road in Drogheda where a possible incendiary device was found. Picture: Ciara Wikinson
The scene near St Mary’s Church on the Dublin Road in Drogheda where a possible incendiary device was found. Picture: Ciara Wikinson

All Garda leave in the Louth division has been cancelled in response to the ongoing feud. The decision was made by the head of the division, Chief Supt. Christy Mangan.

Last night an unoccupied house in Riverbank on the Rathmullen Road was targeted in a petrol bomb attack.

Fire crews were called to the scene around 8pm, but the damage was confined to the front door of the property.

Chief Supt Mangan commended the force for the rescue of a kidnap victim in the Moneymore area of the town on Sunday night and five arrests in connection with the incident, with a policing plan that's been put in place.

He told local radio station LMFM that recent incidents are being taken very seriously.

However, Cllr Smith pointed out on RTE’s News at One that during the summer garda overtime was cancelled at a time when the feud was escalating. “There are two large housing estates with over 2,000 residents that are essentially on lockdown because of this,” he said.

“The gardaí need to be resourced. If there is an overtime ban how can they develop relationships with communities?”

Cllr Smith said he feared that resources will be “pulled back again” when the current campaign concludes. “We need proper resources and a commitment that this will be ongoing.”

Earlier: Armed gardaí rescue slashed youth from five-man torture gang

By Cormac O'Keeffe

Update 6.30am: Armed gardaí rescued a youth from a five-man torture gang when they found him naked in a bath after being slashed and beaten.

Sources said the 22-year-old was covered in blood and was rushed to hospital, where his injuries are understood to be non life-threatening.

The horrific attack late on Sunday night is believed to be part of an escalating feud in Drogheda town.

It followed a car bombing 30 minutes earlier and the discovery of an explosive device in another car that afternoon.

These three attacks followed six incidents, including petrol bombings, between Thursday night and Friday morning in the Co Louth town.

A security alert was sparked in Drogheda at around 2.40pm on Sunday when flames were seen coming from the exhaust of a car, believed to belong to a girlfriend of a senior member of one of the gangs.

The Defence Forces bomb disposal squad was called and the device was determined to be a viable explosive device, that was melting in the heat of the exhaust.

It is thought associates of a gangster recovering from a gun attack last July were behind that attack.

Later on Sunday, at around 9pm, there was an explosion outside a sports club in Moneymore estate, when gas canisters placed inside a car blew up after the vehicle was set on fire.

At 9.30pm and acting on intelligence, the Garda Armed Support Unit raided a house in the estate and discovered a young man, covered in blood, in a bath. The youth, originally from Dundalk, had been slashed and beaten.

Five men that were inside fled to a nearby house and barricaded themselves in. There was a short siege ending in their arrest sometime around midnight.

They are members of the rival gang and are thought to include one of its leaders. They range in ages from 24 to 44. Gardaí are hoping to bring charges.

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