Sunday, 29 July 2007

Shooting as feud gangs gear up to kill

Shooting as feud gangs gear up to kill
Sunday July 29 2007


GARDAI fear that Limerick's simmering crime gang feud is about to boil over again as new shootings followed last week's dismissal of court appeals by the five murderers of crime chief Kieran Keane.

Early yesterday there was a shooting in the city at Georgian Villas on the Old Cork Road, where a number of shots were fired at a house around 1am.

Both a woman and a man in the house at the time were taken to the Mid Western Regional Hospital.

The woman sustained a leg injury while the man is said to be suffering from shock.

Two men dressed in black and wearing balaclavas were seen running from the scene, where a technical examination was conducted yesterday morning.

The incident came less than 72 hours after Wednesday's Court of Criminal Appeal's rejection of the appeal by the five convicted murderers of crime boss Kieran Keane.

The city has now endured eight years of violence. More than 100 criminals are currently jailed for feud-related violence, and teenagers have been arrested on the streets armed with Israeli-manufactured Desert Eagle handguns.

Dundon-McCarthy gang members were so convinced that Wednesday's appeal would succeed that a major party was planned. However, it was the Keane gang that celebrated, with the nephew of the murdered man, Liam Keane, 23, arrested for being drunk and disorderly in the city less than 24 hours after the court's decision.

The feud became even more ludicrous this week when two horses estimated to be worth €20,000 each were stolen from the Keane gang and held for ransom by their bitter rivals, the Dundon-McCarthys.

The horses were returned unharmed during the latest bizarre twist in the battle for control of the lucrative drugs trade.

For 99 per cent of people in Limerick, ordinary life goes on and the feud is a hyped media myth. But for residents in four deprived suburbs, gang war remains a decade-long reality. The decent residents in Moyross, St Mary's Park, Southill and Ballinacurra-Weston hope that the appointment of former Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald to oversee urban rejuvenation will yield results.

But the path to recovery looks to be arduous. Recently, Mr Fitzgerald held a community meeting in Southill church to discuss how best to deal with anti-socialproblems.

However, he soon learnt that some residents were too afraid to attend and speak out as drug dealers were in attendance and there were fears they would enact swift retribution on anyone who revealed their activities or identities.

Across the city in Moyross, four families were left homeless this month after their houses were gutted following a fortnight of arson attacks.Up to 100 members and associates of the city's gangs have been jailed - many with lengthy sentences - yet there seems to be a conveyor belt of eager younger apprentices keen to carry on the fight.

During this bloody feud, RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades have been seized and mercury tilt switch car bombs defused. There have been running battles outside Limerick courthouse, a five-year-old has been shot, assassins contracted from abroad and gunmen sent on training courses at American gun ranges.

During the height of the recent violence, gardai pounced on three teenagers connected to the Dundon-McCarthys who were about to carry out an assault using a loaded Desert Eagle handgun, grenade, shotguns and pistols.

In another incident, a 16-year-old boy was arrested on board a city-centre-bound bus packed with shoppers while he hid a Beretta double-barrel sawn-off shotgun under his jacket.

Solicitor John Devane has represented criminals on both sides. He acknowledges that impressionable teenagers are keen to learn the respect of older criminals.

"These young fellas, while they are threatening, a lot of them are full of puff. There is a sheep mentality and they follow others easily," he said.

But new methods are being used to curb the violence.

This month, Limerick City Council successfully brought a landmark case to the local district court to have a man barred from entering the local authority estate where he lives with his parents.

Paul Crawford, 33, whose brother, Noel, was shot dead last December, was slapped with an exclusion order to stay out of Southill for 18 months.

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