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'ongoing feud' Dublin councillor Janice Boylan condemns gang violence after youth stabbed in city centre

"People are suffering with their mental health and everything else, but they are nervous about going out and coming across gangs"

A local councillor says "it is only a matter of time" before somebody is killed after a young man was stabbed during a brawl involving rival inner-city street gangs on the Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin last light.  

Janice Boylan said communities living on both sides of the Liffey, where a number of incidents have taken place in recent months, were living in fear.

The Sinn Fein councillor for the North Inner City said groups of youths, both male and female, from both sides of the Liffey, had congregated on the bridge and engaged in a physical altercation that resulted in one young male suffering suspected stab wounds.

“This is an ongoing running feud between local gangs,” she said. “It’s been going on now for a couple of months between (gangs on both) sides of the Liffey, involving youth from the Pearse Street area and the Sheriff Street area.

“There are investigations ongoing into whether other recent incidents are linked but it seems to be (affecting) the same parts of the constituency.

“This most recent one, on Monday night, was apparently organised through WhatsApp and it was supposed to be the final clash between these two communities to resolve whatever issues have been ongoing.

“Unfortunately, somebody again, a young male, from one of those areas, has suspected stab wounds and was taken to the Mater Hospital.

“Any activity like this is uncalled for, and we don't need it but it’s gone beyond a joke now at this stage. It is very frightening for anyone to be engaging in it and it is seriously frightening for anybody who is witnessing this as well, it's absolutely terrifying,” she added.

“People are afraid walking around the streets now. Because of the lockdown that’s all that people have now, is to go out for a walk, to try and get a bit of fresh air to, you know, calm their minds. People are suffering with their mental health and everything else, but they are nervous about going out and coming across gangs.

"Even youths just congregating in different places, they’re now terrified to walk past them. That's what I'm being told by my constituents.

“We need action,” Cllr Boylan added. “I’ve already said in one of my statement that this is likely to lead to the loss of lives. And it’s not trying to scare people, we’re not trying to raise tensions, what we're trying to do, and what I will be calling for, is a very calm approach to stop these gatherings from taking place.

“I am calling on all the people in the community, the parents, the guards, the youth services to interact with these youths and try to get the message across that this type of activity can lead to the loss of life. It's just not good enough, it's not sustainable. We cannot allow this or turn a blind eye to it.

“We have the figures given us as councillors by the gardai and they are actually recording that the daily crime rate is down in the North Inner City, when my constituents are telling me that they are fearful and that they have noticed an increase in knife crime.

“I'm not saying that the figures (are wrong) but they don’t reflect what's actually happening in the constituency. We have had a number of knife incidents in the area in the last couple of weeks, that’s the truth. There's nobody able to say that this is not happening because we lost lives from it.

“So, as far as I’m concerned, the figures that (show) crime is down in the area are not reflective of what the people are actually experiencing.”

Gardai said units from Store Street and Pearse Street Garda Stations responded to a public order incident involving a large number of youths on the Samuel Beckett Bridge shortly after 7.30pm.

“A male was later taken to the Mater Hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries,” gardai said. “No arrests have been made and inquiries are ongoing.”

Last year, three young men were hospitalised after a major gang war broke out between hooligans based in the north inner city and a rival crew based just across the river in the south inner city.

In February of this year Gardai initiated a policing operation in Dublin’s North Inner city in response to a number of recent incidents in the area.

It followed an emergency motion at a meeting of Dublin City Council where local councillors called for prison sentences to be doubled for knife possession.

One motion called for the prison sentence for possession of a knife to be increased from five years to ten as had been proposed in a private members bill from Fianna Fail’s Jim O'Callaghan TD.

The motion was put forward by independent North city councillors Nial Ring, Anthony Flynn, Cieran Perry and Christy Burke and also called for a Ministerial task force to be set up.

Speaking to sundayworld.com today, Cllr Perry, the chair of the central area joint policing committee, said: “We had a meeting with the Department of Justice, the police commissioner and the local area office of Dublin City Council about the increase in knife crime and how to tackle it a few weeks ago.

“There appears to be a more visible presence of knife crime.

"Last night, again, we see knives involved, and that’s a huge worry. Bad and all that violent, anti-social behaviour is, when knives are involved, people get badly hurt and there’s a young fella now in hospital.

“There’s no doubt that the pandemic has made a major contribution to this ongoing issue and the general anti-social behaviour around the city.

"With all the clubs closed down, gangs of youths have nothing to do. It’s inevitable that we’re going to have some devilment but when that devilment crosses over into criminality, or serious anti-social activity is when it becomes an issue for everybody.”

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