The logistics of managing the policing efforts against the feuding Drogheda gangs and dealing with other crime issues in the county is a challenge the Louth Garda Division can deal with, according to Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan.
There has been a major escalation in the feud between rival factions in the town in the last three weeks, culminating in a taxi driver being shot on the Bridge of Peace in the middle of rush hour traffic last week and the brutal murder of 17-year-old Keane Mulready-Woods.
In a wide ranging interview with LMFM’s The Michael Reade Show on Tuesday, Chief Supt Mangan said that between the feud, recent ATM raids in Ardee and Dunleer and day-to-day policing, Gardai in the county have their work cut out.
“It has heated up in the last few weeks,” he told Michael Reade of the violence in Drogheda. “We have seen an escalation since the New Year. It does take considerable management. We obviously have a lot of other issues in the division, we have crime committed that would and can happen so we deal with all these issues.
“[Last weel] People decided they would rip the ATM out in Dunleer. That was a major criminal act we were dealing with and we’re still dealing with. We have to have a comprehensive investigation into that,” said Mangan, who a little over 24 hours after attending the scene of the shooting on the Bridge of Peace in Drogheda was in Dunleer to assess the damage done to the Bank of Ireland.
When asked whether he felt the tension that has enveloped Drogheda and its residents in recent times and whether he felt there was a pervading fear in the area, the senior Garda admitted he did.
“I see that. I get that feeling from people. We, as an organisation, we standing together with the public,” he stated. “We’re dealing with the criminal gangs on a toe to toe basis. We have a very robust policing plan in place to deal with them. It does take a lot of energy.
“I certainly support the people of Drogheda and I will show my support to the people of Drogheda. We need to stand together for our town.”
A rally – Drogheda Against Violence – has been organised for this Saturday, where participants will march from the Bridge of Peace to St Peter’s Church on West Street in an act of defiance, an airing of a public message that Drogheda will not be beaten down. Mangan said organisers and participants had his total support and urged people to attend. When pressed, he also guaranteed the safety of those in attendance. A considerable Gardai presence is expected.
“I would encourage everybody and I mean everybody in Drogheda to come in and show the people of Ireland we’re standing up for our time. Through fear, comes courage. We have to have courage. I have no doubt we will. It will be a well planned meeting where people come in and express their opinion. We will make sure they are safe.”
Armed Gardai, squad cars with sirens blaring and even Gardai helicopters overheard have become common sights in around the town in recent months. The Chief Supt said he understood why people thought of the heavy Garda presence as disconcerting but assured people of its necessity.
“We live in a fantastic town. For me, it’s a privilege to be here. We have a very very heavy police presence. That can cause concern to people. When you hear the helicopter, its there for a very good reason. We are making sure criminals can’t do what they wish.
“They are not there to target the ordinary people of Drogheda. I would encourage people to go out at the weekends – you will be safe.”
Mangan confirmed to LMFM that in 2019, Gardai in Louth arrested in excess of 150 people involved in dealing drugs. Saturday’s protest begins at 1.30pm on the Bridge of Peace.