Rathkeale is on a “knife-edge” of fear that clashes between feuding gangs will “bring the town to its knees” after weapons were seized, a garda was seriously injured in a ramming, a local politician was threatened, and shots were reportedly fired at a car in the town.
The Garda Armed Support Unit (ASU) has been patrolling the town and involved in a number of search operations as gardaí try to keep a lid on rising tensions after a violent gang arrived in the town.
A gang linked to a notorious criminal family, which it is claimed have attempted to extort land and property from locals, are causing “havoc”, said local sources.
Local Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin Sheehan told a recent meeting of elected representatives that “law and order has gone out the window” and that he has been warned that he may be “attacked” by associates of the gang if he ventures into certain areas of the town.
They claimed the gang has already successfully “extorted” property and land from local families in recent weeks.
“They are only warming up, they have properties now and with the land they have taken they have enough space to bring reinforcements into the town.”
“They have the potential to destroy Rathkeale if they are not dealt with,” warned the source.
The gang have threatened to “burn” out local families or threaten to hurt their children if they fail to hand over properties, the source claimed.
“The Gardaí have a duty of care to both the steeled and traveller community to reassure them that they will do everything they can to stop this getting out of control.”
“The gardaí need to stand next to the residents and not let things escalate.”
Local sources described the gang as “ruthless” and was being led by a young generation of “thugs” who have “no fear of the law”.
Gardaí confirmed they are actively investigating a number of violent incidents and have also seized weapons in the town.
A garda spokeswoman said: “Gardaí seized a number of weapons at a property in Rathkeale, on the 21st of November as a result of a search operation”.
“These investigations are ongoing”.
Gardaí are also probing details of a video shared online of an alleged attack on a mobile home in Rathkeale in recent days.
The video shows masked individuals attacking a mobile home with slash hooks.
“Gardaí have received reports of an incident of criminal damage that occurred at approximately 11.35am on Friday, the 18th of November 2022 in the Rathkeale area”.
Gardai added “no arrests have been made and investigations are ongoing”.
Garda sources also confirmed that investigations are underway into reports of shots being fired at a car and a caravan in the town two weeks ago.
Gardaí also confirmed that a Garda was seriously injured when a garda patrol was allegedly rammed on October 27th.
“An official Garda vehicle was rammed during this incident and a garda member was later taken to university hospital limerick to receive treatment for his injuries,” said a garda spokesman.
The officer is understood to have undergone surgery for his injuries but has “since returned to duty”.
Gardaí said the alleged ramming occurred on October 27th, and that a man in his 40s was arrested and charged.