herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Balbriggan teen gang terror forces 200 into protest

John and Lorna McKenna at the protest in Balbriggan
John and Lorna McKenna at the protest in Balbriggan

Balbriggan residents say threatening and intimidating gangs of youths are causing terror on the area's streets.

A number of incidents involving youths in their mid-teens have been reported to gardai in recent weeks.

A group of teenagers were threatened by a Balbriggan gang at knifepoint less than a fortnight ago.

The incident took place in nearby Stamullen, Co Meath, where a 14-year-old was robbed and a small sum of money taken.

Five youths aged between 12 and 15 were arrested by Ashbourne gardai on November 19.

They were placed into the garda juvenile diversion programme.

A father and his 13-year-old son were both assaulted in an another incident last Saturday night.

The attack took place at about 9.45pm on Bath Road.

Gardai are investigating the incident, but no arrests have been made as of yet.

The spate of incidents comes after two teenagers were arrested over another attack at Gormanston railway station, Co Meath.

Two 17-year-old boys were hospitalised following the attack on November 5, with one suffering a broken nose.

They were allegedly attacked by a large group of males also in their teens.

The group were accompanied by females who witnessed the assault.

Both males arrested were released without charge and a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The attacks, along with constant intimidation from what is believed to be a number of gangs, led to up to 200 Balbriggan locals turning up at the town's garda station in protest on Wednesday night.

Trouble

Many locals blame a lack of garda presence in the town, along with a reduction in youth services.

"They just will not get out of your way. They will intimidate you, they won't let you get into the shop," said local woman Lorna McKenna.

"They don't care, they're out for trouble."

Ms McKenna said she had heard that at least five gangs were active in the area, with residents insisting that they mainly travel in groups of between 20 and 30.

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