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70 charged in massive garda crackdown on bitter Longford feud

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A petrol-bombed house on the Annaly Gardens estate

A petrol-bombed house on the Annaly Gardens estate

A petrol-bombed house on the Annaly Gardens estate

Gardai have secured serious charges against nearly 70 people as part of a massive investigation into the ongoing Co Longford feud.

Forty-two of them have been sent forward to the circuit court, which has wider sentencing powers than the district court, for feud-related offences including violent disorder, assault and possession of weapons.

Senior sources told the Herald some of these people are facing multiple charges and roughly 75pc of the defendants are male.

"The age profile is fairly wide as well, with charges being brought from people aged in their teens to people aged in their late 40s," a source said.

Many of those charged are members of the same immediate or extended families and their cases are expected to be heard at Longford Circuit Court in the coming months.

"The courts are going to be very busy with all these cases coming up," the source said.

There has been a "complete lull" in feud violence since the coronavirus pandemic restrictions after weeks of incidents that led to fears the dispute might become as entrenched as the criminal warfare in Drogheda, which has cost four lives.

While no one has been killed in the Longford feud, armed gardai have been patrolling the county, often on a 24/7 basis, and the Armed Support Unit has been deployed for a number of early-morning arrest operations.

"Travel restrictions linked to the health crisis have helped the situation, but another important factor is that some of the key players are now locked up, which has helped ease tensions, and others are living with very strict bail conditions," the source said.

Bomb

"The expectation is that by the time all the court cases are completed, there will be a number of people serving custodial sentences."

In February, one property in Edgeworthstown was attacked on three separate occasions as part of the feud, twice being shot at and once being petrol bombed.

The petrol bomb attack and shooting incidents are linked to the same feud that led to a two-year-old girl escaping with her life after shots were fired into a front door as she played in the hallway of the property on February 12.

The house, on the Annaly Gardens estate in Longford town, was later burned to the ground in an arson attack.

Gardai are investigating more than 80 violent incidents linked to the Co Longford dispute, which include shootings, attempted hits, stabbings and petrol bomb attacks.

Six Traveller families are directly involved in the violence, and criminals from Dublin are now also taking part in the feuding.

The Herald previously revealed that a number of women are suspected of directing and orchestrating much of the violence and, as a result, have also been the targets of murder attempts.

The Criminal Assets Bureau has also been carrying out investigations into the feuding gangs' finances, while local gardai have been involved in mediation talks between the warring families.