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Residents ‘living in fear’ over getting caught up in violent feud


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Residents ‘living in fear’ over getting caught up in violent feud Residents ‘living in fear’ over getting caught up in violent feud

A number of Galway residents are ‘living in fear’ of getting caught up in an ongoing feud which has resulted in a series of events of violent disorder around the city.

That’s according to Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) who told a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that neighbours of those involved in the feud were terrified their cars would be damaged or houses burnt down.

“I have had numerous representations from people in estates surrounded by the people who were involved in these incidents,” he said.

“[Those involved] are now lying low at the moment,” continued Cllr Fahy, but the fears of those “going out to work every day, trying to pay their mortgage” remained.

This came as Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche confirmed that 16 people were before the courts, charged with offences relating to mass public order incidents, including one in which a driver ploughed into two people at the Galway Shopping Centre on Headford Road in early September.

“Offences include violent disorder and possession of an article,” he said, “and they are very serious offences. Most will go to the Circuit Court.”

“The driver of the vehicle has been charged with endangerment, which is a very serious offence.

“Six of those charged have been remanded in custody and others are on bail with very strict conditions,” said Chief Supt Roche, while three juveniles were also involved.

He confirmed that 25 arrests had been made in relation to one incident.

Chief Data Analyst in the Galway Garda Division, Olivia Maher, said despite these events, the number of public order incidents in the city had actually decreased in the nine months to the end of September – down 18% on the same period last year.

In total, there had been 336 incidences of public order in that period of 2023, compared to 411 in 2022, she said. Incidences of violent disorder were normally in the single digits and so were not provided to the JPC, for fear they would be identifiable.

“That is not to take away from the seriousness of some of the incidents, but the number [of public order incidents] is down.

“There has been a high level of arrests for incidents in 2023, so far. That number doesn’t include more minor elements of public order which are treated with Fixed Charge Penalty Notices – that is not all the incidents where an arrest is required,” explained Ms Maher.

Cllr Fahy cast some doubt on whether the figures represented the true scale of the problem in Galway and was critical of gardaí for refusing to take up a request by city councillors to meet with them in the aftermath of September’s violent incidents.

Speaking to Chief Supt Roche, he said: “You refused to meet with members in this Chamber [at City Hall].

“I proposed a motion that we would have a meeting to discuss the unacceptable situation in this city and you refused,” he added.

Chief Supt Roche had instead offered to meet with any councillor individually who wished to discuss the matter, said Cllr Fahy.

“I made five, six or seven attempts to contact Murrough to make an appointment to meet you, unsuccessfully,” he continued, adding that the phone kept ringing out.

Chief Supt Roche said gardaí were doing everything in their power to tackle the issue and committed to “fill the courts and the prisons if we need to”.

He said he had met with the Mayor, the Chairperson of the JPC and the Chief Executive of Galway City Council in the aftermath of the public order incidences.

“There is no provision for a Chief Superintendent to go before a full, open Council meeting. This [JPC] is the forum for us to do that, and I am very happy to meet with any of you. I don’t know why you couldn’t get through.

“I am available to anybody – my door is open for public representatives and members of An Garda Síochána,” said Chief Supt Roche.

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