Feud tensions on rise as cars and home attacked
There are major concerns that a bitter feud which has already led to one gun murder will spiral out of control after two further violent incidents.
Senior sources describe the situation as "extremely tense" after a road-ramming incident and a reckless petrol bomb attack yesterday.
And gardai are braced for yet more attacks after last month's murder of Benny Whitehouse (35) outside a school in Balbriggan, north Dublin.
In an incident on Saturday afternoon, officers from the armed regional support unit were called out to deal with a situation when a close associate of Whitehouse was involved in a car chase with a man who they suspect ordered the shooting of the father-of-two on Thursday, September 25.
Gardai from Laytown and Ashbourne stations were initially dealing with the terrifying car chase, which began when members of one faction saw the other at a rural location in Duleek, Co Meath.
Sources say that threats and abuse were traded between the two factions as children travelled in both vehicles.
However, the chase came to a halt at the Donore Road roundabout on the outskirts of Drogheda when armed gardai arrived at the scene just seconds after one van smashed into the back of another van.
It has emerged that a six-year-old boy was "covered in glass" after the vehicle collision, which is being investigated by Laytown gardai.
In the second incident, an innocent family were targeted in a petrol bomb attack yesterday morning in Drogheda, Co Louth.
A house in the St Anthony's Park halting site was targeted at 4.30am and three units of the Louth Fire Brigade had to extinguish the blaze.
There was a family asleep in the house when it was petrol-bombed but all escaped unharmed.
A car at the same address was also attacked and had its windows broken.
"Things are very tense around here at the moment. Gardai are investigating if the Drogheda attack is linked to events at the weekend and previous incidents in the Balbriggan area," a senior source told the Herald.
And it has also emerged that Benny Whitehouse's brother Cliff (39) - who has been warned that he is next on the hitlist - is now facing eviction from his Drogheda home.
Cliff told the Herald: "I'm being kicked out of the house I have lived since 2009 and I don't know where I will go now with my three young children. I have been told that my presence in the estate is a security risk."
Sources say that gardai are making "significant progess" in their investigation into the murder of Benny Whitehouse, but no arrests have been made.
The chief suspect for carrying out the murder is an English criminal. Some of Whitehouse's family members have been warned that they will be shot next.
Whitehouse's innocent partner Natasha White was hit in the leg as they tried to escape the hail of bullets in Clonard Street, in Balbriggan, last month. She is understood to be making a good recovery after witnessing the brutal murder.