Plea for Justice Minister to tackle street gangs in Balbriggan

by Gazette Reporter

GARDAI in Balbriggan are on high alert after a weekend of violence which saw teen gangs launching terrifying attacks on one another in broad daylight.

Locals heading to Dunnes Stores in Castlemill to do their weekly shop were left terrified as a running battle spilled into the shopping centre.

Tensions between rival gangs have reached boiling point with a series of sickening street assaults – many of them recorded and posted on social media.

One dismayed resident said: “This was terrifying to witness, the worst I’ve seen. People are literally scared to cross their front door and go outside.”

Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly has now written to Justice Minister Helen McEntee urging swift action. She warned that a spike in street violence since Covid-19 had left the community “feeling isolated”.

Deputy O’Reilly said: “I’m not responding to those trying to use Balbriggan to stir up tension and trouble but I’m here… to get the town the facilities and support it needs.”

In her letter to Minister McEntee she outlined: “I am reaching out to you regarding the very difficult situation which has materialised in Balbriggan…

“Balbriggan is a beautiful town with lovely people. Unfortunately due to poor planning over the years, a lack of amenities, and an inadequate level of gardai, anti-social behaviour has become a significant problem for the town.

“In recent weeks, perhaps due to the number of outlets closed because of Covid-19, incidents of anti-social behaviour have risen and we have had reports of suspected arson attacks as well as street violence.”

Deputy O’Reilly has asked the Justice Minister to liaise with Fingal County Council on the issue, as well as drafting in additional gardai.

The garda helicopter was called in at the weekend as rioting got out of hand with teens flinging rocks and other weapons at one another.

Videos were also posted of a house fire in the Chapel Grove area of the town, though this is not believed to be linked to the violence.

Green Party Cllr Karen Power said it was “devastating to see the impact and level of extremely dangerous anti-social behaviour in Balbriggan over the weekend”.

She added: “We were very fortunate no one was fatally injured.”

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