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Sam Boal via RollingNews,ie

Three west Dublin garda stations regularly share one patrol car as gang feud continues

A number of shootings related to the feud have happened in the last six months.

 GARDA OPERATIONS PROACTIVELY targeting drug dealers, organised crime and anti- social behaviour have been effectively removed in one of area of Dublin experiencing an upsurge in criminal behaviour and feud-related violence. 

Ballyfermot and its environs in west Dublin have seen a serious increase in violence in the past six months – many of which are linked to an ongoing criminal feud between two gangs based primarily in west Dublin and Finglas. 

While Ballyfermot’s drug unit continues to score significant seizures, it’s the frontline policing that, according to well-placed sources, has been decimated.

Earlier this week, the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau seized heroin to the estimated value of €280,000 and cocaine worth €12,000. 

However, Operation Hybrid, which was set up in 2016 to combat organised crime relating to the Kinahan/Hutch feud, has been scaled back in the area. 

That operation’s resources were used to execute warrants, provide armed checkpoints as well as provide ongoing support to local units. The net effect of this, according to security sources, is that low-level dealers are now acting with relative impunity knowing that an area which was once scattered with gardaí is now operating at a much reduced level of staffing. 

In fact, many frontline gardaí in the L district, the area which covers Ballyfermot, Clondalkin and Rathcoole, have been effectively consigned to desk duty while a small number of officers are out on the streets. 

In part, this is down to the small number of vehicles available to the district, as well as a significant number of members who are not trained to drive with sirens on. 

A number of officers are only qualified to a basic level of garda driving – known as Competency Based Driver Level 1 (CBD1).

Gardaí who complete a one-day CBD1 assessment may drive patrol cars, but they have to sign a document promising not to exceed the speed limit at any time and that they will not turn on their sirens or flashing lights.

CBD2 is the higher qualification which allows garda members to pursue vehicles at high speeds, use the sirens and turn on the flashing blue lights – many of the members based in this region do not have this qualification.

Proactive patrols

Gardaí in the district have been urging management to reintroduce what they refer to as proactive patrols. This is where gardaí are available to get out onto the streets, gather intelligence and work on the information they receive before crime occurs. 

drugs 23 4 19_90569518 Cocaine and Cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €715,000 seized in Ballyfermot last month. Garda Press Garda Press

What this means for criminals is that they can operate in this district more freely. Gardaí believe firearms and drugs are ferried through the area using a network of vehicles. Officers also believe these guns are more than likely being moved into areas such as Corduff and Blanchardstown, where the latest Dublin gang feud has ignited. 

On occasion, gardaí from Rathcoole, Ballyfermot and Clondalkin share a garda car. 

The latest feud violence began last year after years of relative peace between the two groups. Sources explained that what was once one gang split in two – along family lines. For a number of years both gangs dealt drugs in the area and there was an agreement in place not to attack each other.

Petrol bomb attacks, shooting incidents and assaults have, however, become more commonplace in the last six months.  

In the most recent incident, four men smashed in the windows of a house in Corduff, threw a bucket of petrol inside and set it alight. Two men were upstairs at the time and managed to escape but garda sources have said this incident could have been fatal. This arson attack happened at 11.20am on Saturday morning. 

Earlier this month, a takeaway driver was caught up in one of these shooting incidents while trying to deliver food to the home of the intended target. There is now growing concern that more innocent people will be put at risk in this feud and locals are afraid to talk to gardaí about what they know. 

Last month a man fired a gun outside a school in Corduff – the target was waiting outside to collect his little brother. 

In another incident in Finglas, a man was set upon outside the garda station by a group of men who sliced his neck with a knife. This is being treated by investigators as a case of attempted murder.

While many of the incidents above have happened in the K district which comprises Blanchardstown, Finglas and Cabra, informed sources say the lack of coverage in neighbouring areas make the movement of illegal contraband much easier for would-be dealers or killers. 

2 seized_90564371 Guns seized in Corduff earlier this year. Garda Press Garda Press understands that all gardaí are being told to go to court on their working shifts which leaves no cars available to patrol the district. This is common in a number of other garda districts. Management is also an issue. In some cases, there are no sergeants working on units to offer guidance to new recruits. 

All applications for extra Gardai to work on overtime is refused. A high number of members are also regularly extracted to work events in Dublin city centre. These actions leave garda units scrambling for cover.

The local effect

For many in the area, it’s not a lack of gangland operations affecting their daily lives, instead it’s the effects of anti-social behaviour stopping people from parking their cars in certain areas or being unable to use local amenities. 

There has been an upsurge in the level of anti-social behaviour in the area in recent months. Vandalism of cars, attempted robbery of vehicles as well as open drug taking and dealing is having a detrimental effect on the community, local representatives have said. 

A wait of three hours or more for gardaí following a burglary or car theft/vandalism is not uncommon, informed sources say. 

scene 930_90570239 The scene of an arson attack at a house in Corduff in west Dublin in May. Sam Boal Sam Boal

A lack of members stationed in the district is not the problem, however. It’s a lack of training that has curtailed the rank-and-file garda from carrying out their duties in the community. 

In one of the stations, just a “handful” of officers are trained to drive with sirens on. This means that there is over a dozen present in the station who are carrying out paperwork.

Local councillor for Ballyfermot, Daithí De Róiste, told that Operation Cherry Orchard garnered significant results for gardaí and that the lack of resourcing in the area is allowing criminality to run rife in the community.

“I honestly am not exaggerating when I say there are people in our community who are being held hostage by criminality and anti-social behaviour. It’s what I’m hearing on the doorsteps, it’s what I’m hearing on a daily basis.  

“You have people terrorising estates, smashing up cars and whatever and there’s no gardaí to actually deal with it. It’s a constant occurrence that gardaí in three stations have one patrol car. That car is in bits. 

“You have a feud happening 10 minutes up the road. The streets of Ballyfermot and Clondalkin are being used to move guns and drugs. The dealers know if they drive around the place they won’t encounter a garda. It’s something that people need to be jumping up and down about.

“We have a new garda inspector who is fantastic but he’s like a bricklayer without blocks. High visibility policing is a myth nowadays. High visibility drug dealing and anti-social behaviour on the other hand – it’s gone from zero tolerance to zero Gardaí. No guards and clapped out vehicles, it’s like something from a TV sketch show.

“West Dublin has been abandoned by the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner. They’ve waved the white flag, packed up their belongings and left us.”

An Garda Síochána was contacted for comment.

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