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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
On the beat

Sheriff Street's community gardaí: 'They know that's not the end of it - who will it be this time?'

Gardaí working in Dublin’s north inner city have been doing their best to reassure locals as they try to nail down those responsible for the recent violence.
You can be sure they’re frightened. They know that’s not the end of it, and I’d say it’s fear more than anything that they have down there. When is the next one going to be and who will it be this time?

IN THE SPACE of three months, there have been three violent gangland murders in the Store Street garda district.

On 8 February, Eddie Hutch, brother of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch, was gunned down in his home in retaliation for the murder of Kinahan gang member David Byrne at the Regency Hotel.

Just a few minutes’ walk away, and two months later, 24-year-old Martin O’Rourke was shot dead on Sheriff Street, when he was mistaken for an associate of the Hutch gang.

And in broad daylight on 25 April, Michael Barr was blasted at The Sunset House pub where he worked.

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Shock and sadness

The intensity of the violence over such a short period of time has created an air of uncertainty and fear in the community.

It has also created a serious challenge for those in charge of policing these areas.

Community garda working closely with local around Sheriff Street have been doing their best to reassure people, while also focusing their efforts on trying to track down those responsible for the recent violence.

Garda Vinnie Campbell, who has been conducting door-to-door enquiries in recent weeks around Sheriff Street, said there is “shock and sadness” at recent events.

“But they’ve come together, they always come together as a community.”

A community grieves 

The murder of an innocent man, with no connection to the recent feud, shook the community. In the days after father-of-three Martin O’Rourke was gunned down, locals pooled their money to help cover funeral costs.

22/4/2016. Martin O'Rourke Funeral. Mourners watch Eamonn Farrell / Angelina Power, the partner of gangland shooting victim, Martin O'Rourke, touches the hearse after the funeral service in Halston St Church in Dublin. Eamonn Farrell / /

“They really feel that this is their area, they’ve grown up there, they’re maybe third generation people living there,” Sergeant Mark O’Doherty said.

When something like that happens, you see them going  above and beyond just saying they’re sorry for what took place, and donating money themselves towards a funeral or towards the family. It shows they feel the grief from their side.

“That’s what they’ll always do in that area for someone who’s less fortunate than them,” Sergeant Ken Hoare added.

He said right now the question is: “When is the next one going to be and who will it be this time?”

A visible presence

The challenge for them now is to try to offer some comfort to local people during this tense and turbulent time.

“The door-to-door questionnaires are part of the investigative side, but it’s also putting us in the doors of the houses down there and speaking with the people, trying to reassure them and being a visible presence, which is difficult to be down there all the time,” he explained.

Though they are aware of the potential danger to their own lives, all three replied “no” when asked if they worried for their own safety.

“This is what we signed up for, so we’re willing to do what needs to be done,” Sergeant Hoare told us. “You know the type of individuals you’re dealing with, so it keeps you on your guard.”

The community policing model in this district has “paid off in reams” according to Superintendent Kevin Gralton, particularly during this period when gardaí need the assistance of the locals.

“The response has been above and beyond was was expected,” he said.

There are three investigations teams in his district working on the three murder investigations.

At this stage we’d be happy with the way things are going.


When asked whether he had sufficient resources for this mammoth task, the superintendent told us: “You’ll always want more”.

“The debate is going on as to should there be up to 14,000 or 15,000. If you were to ask me, if there was 20,000, I’d say there’s still not enough if you want the job done properly.”

If they promise me an extra 100 today it’ll take two years to get feet on the ground. That’s not going to solve our problems at the moment. We’re down quite significant numbers since 2010 and we have done more with less and the results are there.

He also pointed out that there is a “significant armed presence” in the area.

“We can’t have somebody on every corner, you can cover an area. The response times, and we’ve looked at them for the shootings, were so fast it was almost a case of arriving almost at the time,” he explained.

“Without identifying either or, in one case it was just under a minute, but that’s luck on their behalf.”

What is most important now, Gralton stressed, is that those living in these areas continue to engage with gardaí.

“I can put my hand on heart and say all the staff here are in people protection mode, if you want to put it that way.”

We are there to serve the community, we’re passionate about what we do around here.

For now, ordinary life continues in Dublin’s north inner city, until the next violent interruption.

Read: Minister vows to crackdown on “evil and sinister” Kinahan-Hutch gangs>

Read: Gardaí investigating gangland crime may soon be working out of prefabs>

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