'Marauding' Gardaí hunt gang that ‘joined in’ homophobic attack on Evan Somers in Dublin
‘Sickened’ Justice Minister calls for boost to garda numbers to quell violence in city centre
A “marauding gang” joined in a homophobic attack on a young man in Dublin city last weekend after severely beating and hospitalising another man just minutes earlier, the Sunday World can reveal.
Evan Somers, who is openly gay, went public with his ordeal from his hospital bed on Monday. He was badly beaten on Dame Street in the early hours of Sunday morning.
He was initially attacked by a lone man he encountered who began hurling homophobic abuse.
The garda investigation has now widened and officers at Pearse Street are now searching for several other men, who “joined in” and “helped severely beat up” Mr Somers when they came across the scene.
The group was involved in earlier assault at 3.05am at the Spar in Dame Street on Sunday morning. The gang “severely beat” an Italian man, understood to be aged in his 30s, in the unprovoked attack. The Italian man was also hospitalised.
The group of young men then fled the scene but did not go far, sources explain. Forty minutes later, at 3.45am, Mr Somers was attacked by a lone male. At this point, the gang who had committed the earlier attack on the Italian man came upon the scene and became involved in this assault.
“This gang has no link whatsoever to man who attacked Mr Somers. They simply were still around town, looking for more trouble. They saw Mr Somers being badly beaten and simply ran over and joined in this horrific assault,” said a well-placed source.
“They undoubtedly added to his injuries. They then fled the scene again.”
No arrests have yet been made in either case. However, it is understood that gardaí at Pearse Street have secured high-quality CCTV of both incidents and are hopeful of swift progress in both investigations.
It is suspected the gang consists of young men, possibly from the city centre.
One security source said there is “a major issue” with the potential for extreme violence to break out in Dublin city, which has “been epitomised” by the gang’s attacks on two innocent men last Sunday morning.
“Now that lockdown is over, we are seeing a lot of people back out,” said one officer. “Unfortunately a lot of people are just looking for fights; there is alcohol and cocaine involved oftentimes.
"Dublin city centre can be a dangerous place to be at the moment. More resources for public order units are needed. We cannot have gangs committing this sort of attack thinking they can do so with impunity.”
Mr Somers was contacted for comment this weekend. He has been openly discussing his ordeal since he released photos of himself on social media on Monday.
From his hospital bed at St James’ in Dublin, he posted on Twitter: “Last night a stranger called me a f****t before beating the sh*t out of me. He left me with a fractured eye socket, two fractures in my ankle, a dislocation in my ankle & some other minor injuries.”
Mr Somers, who plays rugby with Dublin’s Emerald Warriors, said “we have come a long way but still have such a long way to go in terms of equality”.
Adding pictures of his injuries, he continued that he “genuinely didn’t share this for attention, I felt like it needed to be seen instead of hidden away because this is the reality of what so many LGBTQ+ people go through regularly & if it makes you uncomfortable, maybe it should.
“For those wondering where this happened, it was on Dame Street in Dublin not too far away from Gay Spar/The George and it was about 3.30am.”
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was one of the first to respond, saying he was “shocked and appalled that an assault of this nature happened in our capital city”.
Mr Varadkar said he would be discussing with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee the garda presence on the streets and “new hate crime laws”. He wished Mr Somers a speedy recovery.
The Tánaiste also said there was “a sense among the community that there has been an uptick in verbal abuse on the streets and even assaults”. He said it was “unclear as yet if that’s backed up by other evidence, but it has people worried.
"It would be sad if we fell backward, given how far we have come as a society.”
Ms McEntee later spoke out about the attack, saying she was sickened by the photos of Mr Somers’ injuries.
Speaking on a visit to Limerick City on Monday, Ms McEntee said: “I am utterly appalled by what happened, anybody who has seen the tweet and the pictures of what happened to this poor gentleman, it shouldn’t have happened.
“Whoever is responsible, we need to make sure the gardaí are allowed to carry out their work, and hopefully somebody will be [apprehended].
“I have spoken to the Tánaiste about this, he has raised it with me, but I’ve also spoken to the Garda Commissioner in recent weeks about Dublin City and about Operation Citizen, which was put in place just last year, where we have over 500 additional garda hours every week.
"This was following Covid [when] I suppose [there was] a sense of uneasiness within the city where there weren’t many people about on a daily basis.
“But I suppose the question is now, do we need to do more and do we need more [garda] hours on top of that, and how do we support the Commissioner to do that, so I will be speaking to him again after my conversation with the Tánaiste.”
Ms McEntee added, “I want to increase garda numbers full-stop. The fact that we have funding for 800 garda recruits this year, that’s a start, and however the Garda Commissioner deploys them is obviously a matter for the Commissioner.”
Gardaí are continuing to appeal for witnesses to the attacks.
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