herald

Saturday 19 October 2019

Maguire shooting mob threatens to gun down gardai investigating feud

A garda car outside a house in Drogheda which was badly damaged when a petrol bomb was hurled inside as a mum and her four children were sleeping
A garda car outside a house in Drogheda which was badly damaged when a petrol bomb was hurled inside as a mum and her four children were sleeping

A massive garda investigation has been launched after the force received intelligence that criminals were plotting to have two officers gunned down.

The alleged targets are officers investigating the savage feud in Drogheda, Co Louth.

The threats were made in a phone call to a prison.

The suspects at the centre of the plot are members of the same mob which was involved in the botched murder attempt on Owen Maguire in July, which intensified the feud.

They were also involved in a petrol bomb attack on a house at 12.15am yesterday and senior sources confirmed the gang had the capability to carry out the sickening threats.

"All gardai in Drogheda have been strongly advised to be extra vigilant in relation to this credible threat from one of the feuding gangs," a senior source said last night.

"This threat is being investigated because of a prison phone call.

"Gardai think that calls were made to other organisations as well. It is a very serious matter."

Lucky

As gardai scrambled to deal with the chilling death threats, an innocent mother and her four children were lucky to escape with their lives after a petrol bomb was thrown into their house in Drogheda in the early hours of yesterday.

The family fled their home in terror as the bomb set fire to the living room, filling the house with smoke.

Gardai believe the house, in Laurences Park, was targeted in the war between rival drug factions in the town which has escalated in recent months following the bungled shooting of Maguire .

Sources said the family was not involved in the feud, but may have been targeted because one member of the family is friends with a man who is aligned to the Maguire faction.

"This was a targeted attack," the source added.

"When you throw a petrol bomb into a house where people are sleeping you have no regard for life.

"You surely know the possibility that people could die.

"It's a miracle nobody has died in this feud yet."

Gardai sealed off the terraced house for a forensic examination by the technical bureau.

The front window was smashed and extensive fire damage could be seen inside.

Several houses and outbuildings have been firebombed in the town in recent weeks as the feud has spiralled out of control.

Last week a house at The Drive, in Riverbank, was also targeted in a callous petrol bomb attack.

The people in the house at the time are innocent and it is believed the targets were previous tenants who no longer live there.

In the previous week, a house on the Moneymore estate was also firebombed.

In a garda drug raid on a house in the town this week, officers were shocked to find one of the largest pipe bombs they had ever seen.

"It was two foot long and two inches wide," the source said.

"It was pristine and would have caused a lot of damage if it had been detonated."

Kidnappings

Tensions are now so high that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan visited Drogheda and met with senior gardai and officers who regularly patrol the streets trying to keep a lid on the violence.

He was also taken to the Moneymore estate where he saw first hand the damage caused by the fighting factions.

The feud was the subject of discussion after being brought up in the Dail by Fianna Fail TD Declan Breathnach who said: "This morning the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, is visiting the garda station in Drogheda.

"He is meeting Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan to discuss the excellent work being done by gardai in their efforts to deal with a powder keg situation that is ongoing in Drogheda, a drug-related feud.

"Since July, gardai in Drogheda have been dealing with shootings, kidnappings, intimidation, petrol bombings and incendiary devices while today, the lives of two named gardai were threatened.

"The situation is getting out of control, despite the best efforts of An Garda Siochana.

"When will An Garda Siochana be in a position to deal with these types of pressure cooker situations which, as I have said previously, are happening to a lesser degree in towns and villages all across this country?"

Tanaiste Simon Coveney answered: "The examples which the deputy has provided are why the Minister of Justice and Equality is speaking to senior gardai to ensure they have the resources and powers they need to be able to act.

Dangerous

"An Garda Siochana has shown itself to have the capacity to deal with dangerous feuding criminals.

"It has done that in Limerick successfully, and it will also be able to do it in Drogheda.

"The Government will work closely with it to ensure it obtains any resources or increased powers it needs to be able to do that job."

The death threats against the two gardai are "particularly poignant" in the Louth garda division because two officers have been shot dead in the county in recent times.

Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was gunned down during an alleged armed robbery at a credit union in Bellurgan in 2013, while Garda Tony Golden was shot dead in Omeath in 2015.

Neither of these murders was linked to the current Drogheda feud which has recently escalated to the point of being a local and national concern.

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