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The arson attack on this house is believed to be connected to the gang feud.
The arson attack on this house is believed to be connected to the gang feud.
Image: Dublin Fire Brigade

West Dublin feud: Locals 'afraid to talk to gardaí' for fear of gang retribution

Communities are also concerned about the number of violent incidents that have taken place in public places during daylight hours.
May 7th 2019, 10:00 PM 32,479 16

“EVERYBODY KNOWS WHO’S involved.”

Philip Jennings of Safer Blanchardstown is frustrated that the community of Corduff is back in the headlines linked to drugs and gang violence.

Local volunteer groups have worked hard, he says, to clean up the area in recent years, planting flowers and painting murals to brighten it up.

It’s very demoralising for the area now, because there’s so much good work going on. We really did think this was something that was behind us.

That good work is overshadowed now by a spate of violent incidents linked to a feud involving three gangs with ties to the Dublin 15 area and Finglas.

In the most recent incident at the weekend, 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. 

It followed a number of petrol bomb attacks and reports of shots fired at homes in west Dublin.

Last week 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. 

“There’s huge fear, people don’t want to be seen talking to the guards, to anyone associated with the guards or the local authority. Everybody knows who’s involved but the guards have to work to get evidence,” Jennings said.

Garda sources have also said they are seeing this reluctance to report incidents in the community. There have been a number of recent reports of shots being fired in the these areas, for example, but when gardaí attended the scene they could not find any evidence or anyone to back it up. 

gun Gardaí found this loaded pistol in the vicinity of Riversdale Community College in Corduff last month. Source: Garda Press Office

Over the bank holiday weekend there was a visible garda presence in Finglas and Corduff, including armed patrols. 

“The place is saturated with police but the guards can’t be everywhere and these guys know this,” Jennings said. 

In Finglas, people are even keeping quiet about the feud when local election candidates vying for their votes are asking them about it on the doorsteps. 

“People know, for want of a better phrase, that ‘loose lips sink ships’,” noted Fine Gael candidate Sean Tyrell.

“They don’t want to be seen to complain even to a local election candidate who might get in touch with the guards. They don’t want to be seen saying a specific person was causing them problems, there’s a fear of doing that,” he said.

I’ve asked people before if they’d be willing to go to the guards and there’s a reluctance to make a formal statement because you have to put your name on it and they’re scared of retaliation.

Drug-related crime

The feud, like others across the country, centres on a struggle for control of the local drugs market. 

Research published by Blanchardstown Local Drug and Alcohol Taskforce earlier this year identified high levels of drug intimidation in Dublin 15, with 78% of people saying it was frequent in the area.

Almost half reported violent offences linked to drugs were frequent and 22% said firearms offences were frequent. 

Janet Robinson, who conducted this research three years in a row, told TheJournal.ie that it has consistently highlighted “how easy it is to get drugs” in the area. In the second and third years of the research there was also a noticeable increase in the number of people under 18 dealing and running drugs.

According to the research, children as young as 10 years old are dealing drugs while children as young as eight are drug running. 

“We came up with the assumption that it could be related to drug debt intimidation. Young people don’t really know what they’re getting themselves into when they buy a bit here and there. Their use spirals and they can’t pay back the debt and that’s how they get involved.”

Daylight violence

“The violence displayed by gang members in this feud is frightening for innocent people in the communities who are trying live day-to-day, working and raising their families,” councillor Paul McAuliffe told TheJournal.ie.

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.

Both of these incidents happened in public places during daylight hours. 

We’ve had this issue with a lot of gangs and people will say ‘if they want to kill each other that’s fine, that’s the wold they’re in’. But there’s a threat to innocent people, these are the streets they walk down to get their shopping or bring their kids to school. There have been a number of very serious incidents that have made people afraid.

Like the people of Corduff, McAuliffe said communities in Finglas are angry that a disruptive minority have again brought negative attention to neighbourhoods they are proud of.

“Lots of people are sick of it, they really resent it. It’s not only about their safety, they’re annoyed by the association this brings to their area.”

Over the bank holiday weekend, while armed gardaí patrolled the area in an attempt to deter further violence, Finglas residents took part in a number of community events, including a commemoration for Irish musician Séamus Ennis. 

“I think people would much rather Finglas be known as the birthplace of Séamus Ennis than for the death of some random gangland criminal.”

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Michelle Hennessy

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