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Sunday 20 October 2019

'Let me mediate to help end Drogheda gang feud' - bishop

Bishop Michael Router said everyone has an obligation to help tackle the problem of drugs and associated crime
Bishop Michael Router said everyone has an obligation to help tackle the problem of drugs and associated crime

A Bishop has offered to mediate between rival gangs in the Drogheda feud as he issued a plea for an end to the gang violence that has blighted the area.

In his homily for the Church's Day for Life at St Peter's Church in Drogheda, auxiliary bishop Michael Router, of the Archdiocese of Armagh, said everyone has an obligation to help tackle the drugs problem which is at the heart of so much of the criminal activity and contempt for life.

The bishop said he and any priest or clergyman in the area would be willing to mediate between the different factions involved in the gang warfare and he urged them to stand back and consider the futility of their actions.

Brutal

Dr Router also appealed for an end to the violence last month, following the brutal murder of Keith Branigan on August 27.

In his sermon in Carlingford and Dillonstown that day, he said seeking revenge for that terrible murder risked the lives of others.

"It was very fortunate that innocent bystanders were not injured or even killed in Clogherhead, such was the disregard for life that was shown," he said of the killing of Branigan at a caravan park in the Co Louth seaside village.

Branigan became the first victim of the volatile gang war that has seen dozens of violent incidents, including shootings, pipe bomb and petrol bomb attacks.

Branigan (29) was targeted as he worked on decking outside a mobile home in Clogherhead, Co Louth, shortly before 3pm.

The gunman opened fire at Branigan, with a number of stray shots also hitting two parked cars nearby, before the hit team fled.

Branigan was considered a mid-level member of the Drogheda gang involved in the feud with a Traveller mob linked to Owen Maguire.

Maguire was left paralysed after he survived a murder attempt when he was shot at least six times in July 2018.

His brother, Brendan Maguire (40), was also lucky to survive following a drive-by shooting at the M1 Retail Park on the outskirts of the Co Louth town in February.

At the weekend, Dr Router warned that the threats to the value and sacredness of human life through domestic abuse, abortion and drug-related violence "are symptoms of a society that is losing its moral compass and which places little value on anything other than the individual's right to choose in all matters, even if those choices bring destruction on themselves or others".

On the issue of domestic abuse, Dr Router said it remains a very serious problem and is a hidden form of toxic behaviour.

Fester

He noted that Ireland in recent years has seen "a number of terrible cases of domestic abuse" leading to extreme violence and murder.

"Such awful events remind us of what can happen if subtle abuse and manipulation of a spouse is allowed to fester and grow into something sinister and threatening," he said.

The latest figures outlined in the bishops' pastoral letter, The Scourge Of Domestic Abuse, indicate that one in four women and about one in six men suffer from domestic abuse during their lifetime.

According to a 2018 report by Women's Aid, almost nine out of every 10 women murdered in Ireland were killed by a man known to them.

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