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Drog days over Drogheda feud fears fade as party held near home where shooting sparked violence

Bouncy castle and marquee for party at home where Drogheda shooting victim was paralysed

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The marquee and bouncy castle at the house on Cement Road.

The marquee and bouncy castle at the house on Cement Road.

More of the supplies for the bash.

More of the supplies for the bash.

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The marquee and bouncy castle at the house on Cement Road.

Three years after the vicious gangland feud in Drogheda erupted into murderous violence the fear factor has finally faded.

Marquees and a bouncy castle close to the home of a leading member of the Maguire faction signal the gangland war is, for now, at a stalemate.

Wheelchair-bound after he was shot in July 2018, Owen Maguire didn't appear at the family celebration thrown this week by his cousins and neighbours.

The modest party was a low-key affair at Cement Road where Owen was shot six times, leaving him permanently paralysed.

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Owen Maguire is now in a wheelchair

Owen Maguire is now in a wheelchair

Owen Maguire is now in a wheelchair

The feud erupted in Drogheda after the attempt to kill Maguire fanned the flames of an existing dispute.

His brother Brendan, who survived being shot on a different occasion, lives next door.

The marquees, decorated with balloons, ribbons and covered furniture, were generously stocked with soft drinks, sweets and treats for the kids as well as a booze table for the adults.

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Preparations for the bash.

Preparations for the bash.

Preparations for the bash.

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The interior of the marquee ahead of the bash.

The interior of the marquee ahead of the bash.

The interior of the marquee ahead of the bash.

The fairytale dresses of the children told a very different story to that of the gangland feud that saw abductions, torture, mutilation, arson attacks and murder.

The community was terrorised as relatives, including elderly people, were threatened with violence and members of the gardaí also received death threats as they worked to keep a lid on the violence.

Cement Road is not far from where Brendan Maguire almost lost his life after a would-be assassin shot him in the neck as he emerged from a gym at the M1 Retail Park.

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It was initially feared he would not survive, such were the extent of his injuries.

That shooting in February 2019 was another significant escalation in the feud that had its roots in rival gangs trying to control the lucrative drugs trade in the area.

Two gangs who were once part of the same group had turned on each other in a bid to take control of the drugs trade.

They had already been known for their excessive violence when collecting even minor drug debts owed.

Following Owen Maguire's shooting there was a series of fire-bombings in the town as the gangs embarked on a series of tit-for-tat attacks.

In November 2018 there was a sinister development when 22-year-old Aaron Rochford was found seriously injured in a bath after being stripped naked and tortured.

There were dramatic scenes as armed gardaí rescued Rochford from the house in the Moneymore Estate where vehicles had also been set alight.

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Aaron Rochford was tortured as part of the feud.

Aaron Rochford was tortured as part of the feud.

Aaron Rochford was tortured as part of the feud.

Two men have since been jailed for their part in the horrific kidnapping while bench warrants have been issued for brothers Josh and Keith Boylan, who are considered leading members of the anti-Maguire faction.

Keith Branigan was shot dead in August 2019 at a caravan park in Clogherhead.

A childhood friend of a gangster and believed to have been uninvolved in the feuding, Branigan died after several bullets were fired from an automatic weapon, with some hitting parked cars in the area.

The next murder came in November 2019 when Richie Carberry was shot dead near his home in Bettystown, Co Meath.

Although he is believed to have been involved in organising drug deals at a more senior level than the Drogheda factions, it's thought Carberry's support of one side cost him his life.

An innocent taxi driver had a lucky escape when he was shot on January 12, 2020 by someone targeting a passenger in his vehicle.

The final and most gruesome murder connected to the feud came the same day when 17-year-old Keane Mulready Woods was abducted and killed.

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Keane Mulready-Woods.

Keane Mulready-Woods.

Keane Mulready-Woods.

He was killed and dismembered at a house in Drogheda as part of the feud involving the rival factions in the Co Louth town.

Partial remains, including his limbs, were found in a bag in Moatview Gardens in Coolock, on January 13 last year.

Two days later, his head and hands were found in the boot of a burnt-out car at Trinity Terrace near Ballybough in Dublin.

The boy's torso was found during a search of waste ground at Rathmullan Park in Drogheda last March.

In total, 13 people have now been arrested as part of that inquiry, with three men charged before the courts.

The teenager's death sparked thousands of people to march through the town days later in a rally against the continuing violence.

In the early days of the feud gardaí had launched Operation Stratus to target the rival factions and their illegal activities.

"We were dealing with a huge amount of intimidation on a daily basis with families whose sons or daughters had become indebted to drug dealers," Chief Supt Christy Mangan recently told RTE.

At the height of the feud, gardaí say around 200 people were involved in both criminal gangs and they had threatened to wipe each other out through murder.

"We could see that people were very fearful. Children were fearful going to school.

"Business owners were concerned about the reputational damage to the town."

Since then, leading gang members are known to have fled the jurisdiction in bid to escape both the pressure from the gardaí and revenge attacks.

While the shooting has stopped, the underlying tension between the gangs still remains.

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