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Criminal gangs 'placing the entire population of Drogheda at risk', says TD

Drogheda needs at least 25 more gardaí to combat the escalating gang feud says local Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd.

“There's fear in the town, there's deep concern, we need and must have more gardaí.

“That's the bottom line, the gardaí must have the resources they need, whatever they are, to make sure that these gangs are put away,” he told RTE radio’s Morning Ireland.

Mr O’Dowd explained that two criminal gangs in the town are fighting a war over drugs and territory, “placing the entire population of Drogheda at risk.”

He said he had been told by local gardaí that a young girl passing by the shooting of a man on the street last week had missed a bullet “by eight inches.”

Mr O’Dowd added that he had a letter from Assistant Garda Commissioner Finbar O’Brien acknowledging that the ongoing criminal feud has placed considerable strain on the resources of the Drogheda district and Louth gardaí.

“The fact is there is serious strain, there are not enough gardaí.”

He pointed out that the towns of Drogheda and Dundalk, “are basically the same size,” but Drogheda has 35 fewer gardaí than Dundalk. “But they both have serious problems. Dundalk needs that number of gardaí and we need it too.

“I've been speaking to the Minister and he's reassured me that armed gardaí are now patrolling the streets of Drogheda and more gardaí are on their way. I very much welcome that.

“People need to be reassured. It's a red line issue for us. Crime must not pay. People must be safe on the streets, you should be able to walk the streets of your town without fear.

“The problem with the two shooting incidents in Drogheda, the perpetrators were able to cross the town unimpeded by armed gardaí or by patrols on our bridges, there are strategic points where there should be and must be interceptability where guards would be ready, willing and able if they're on the streets.”

Mr O’Dowd said that if there were eight gardaí on a shift, two could be in court while another could be sick, which greatly reduced resources.

“We need more gardaí. We must have them. I’ve said that to the Minister. People are worried by this wild west stuff, it drives fear into the heart of all of us.

“Gardaí must be given resources. If they want overtime they must get it.”

Earlier on Newstalk Breakfast, Padraic Kierans, a former President of Drogheda Chamber of Commerce said that the people of the town are experiencing “fear and trepidation” and wanted more resources for the Gardaí.

“These individuals have no fear of the rule of law or the gardaí. We have a wonderful community, it is unfortunate that this is among us.

“We saw off Cromwell and King Billy, we will see these off too.”