The 26 County election campaign has had the most shocking start imaginable after body parts of a murdered 17-year-old boy were found in a bag in north Dublin.
It was a public statement of brutal intent by one of the state’s drugs gangs who continue to operate with virtual impunity in the 26 Counties. It was a gruesome warning to its rivals, but also an indirect challenge to the ‘law and order’ claims of the outgoing Fine Gael government. The horror killing has exposed the complete failure of outgoing Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to tackle gangland violence.
Keane Mulready-Woods was the victim of a feuding gang based in Drogheda, County Louth, who operate around north Dublin. It is understood the gang based in Drogheda in south Louth who abducted, mutilated and kill the schoolboy did so to send a grisly warning to their rivals.
The alarm was raised shortly before 10pm on Monday night when human limbs were found in a bag outside houses in the Coolock area of Dublin. Human remains were also found in a burnt-out car in the Drumcondra area.
The boy’s head and limbs were to be dumped outside the homes of their enemies, but at some point this week, the gang responsible set fire to a car with the remaining body parts, including Keane’s head, still inside. Videos alleged to be of his dismemberment were sent to his family.
Former Sinn Féin leader and outgoing TD for Louth, Gerry Adams, said the situation had reached an emergency level. “The current situation is untenable. There must be zero tolerance of drug gangs and criminality,” he said.
He said the Fine Gael government had not taken the issue of drug addiction seriously.
Councillor Ruairi O Murchu, who is contesting the seat being vacated by Mr Adams, said the recent savagery and gun attacks in Drogheda were “evidence of the level to which drug gangs will stoop”. He also called for “frontline drug addiction services” to be adequately funded.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited the town of Drogheda on Friday and said he would end the two-year-old criminal feud there. Deflecting questions on his record to date, he said: “We are going to get these people behind bars and that we are going to make this town safe again.”
He also held a meeting with Minister Flanagan and senior Gardai, who have been focussing their attention on anti-republican political projects in recent months.
“This has been a brutal and heinous crime,” said Varadkar. “There has been an ongoing and intensification Garda investigation. I’m satisfied from talking to the Garda Commissioner as recently as yesterday that progress is being made,” he insisted.
Flanagan, who made international headlines last week over a plan to honour members of the British Crown Forces who carried out atrocities in Ireland during the War of Independence, said the murder must be “a line in the sand as far as gangland crime is concerned”
It was the second shock setback for the outgoing government’s promise to promote ‘a future to look forward to’, within hours of their election campaign slogan being revealed.
On Wednesday, a homeless man lying in a tent by the Grand Canal in Dublin suffered life-changing injuries after his tent was removed by a digger-type vehicle in an attempt to “to clean up the canal path”, according to a Garda statement.
In the aftermath of the horrific incident, an election poster for the highly unpopular Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy was erected by Fine Gael at the scene, but was removed as the story emerged.
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin O Broin called for an immediate investigation to be launched by both Dublin City Council and Minister Murphy to find out how it could have occurred.
“Eoghan Murphy is still the Minister for Housing and he, along with Dublin City Council, need to launch an immediate investigation into how such a horrific incident occurred in broad daylight, along a busy canal.”
In further tragic incidents in the homelessness crisis, a homeless woman in her 20s died in a 24-hour emergency accommodation centre, while a homeless woman in her 60s was found in a life-threatening situation near the GPO in Dublin. Inner City Helping Homeless CEO Anthony Flynn asked: “What has our society become when human life holds such little value?”
SF COUNCILLOR SUSPENDED
The election campaign has also brought some embarrassment for Sinn Féin after a recently elected councillor made a series of offensive comments.
Paddy Holohan, a very well known mixed-martial arts fighter from the deprived community of Jobstown, had been approached by Sinn Féin to become a local election candidate in February of last year. He topped the poll and helped Sinn Féin won three out of five seats in the ward.
But in a podcast broadcast this week, Mr Holohan indicated that a “family man” should run the country, as opposed to the openly gay Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and he also questioned Varadkar’s patriotism, because of his Indian background.
Sinn Féin initially decided not to sanction the councillor after he agreed to apologise for his remarks. But when it came to light on Friday that the councillor had made a further comment about “scum women”, Sinn Féin triggered the councillor’s suspension. Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said the comments were “beyond offensive” and “upsetting”. She added: “I’m very, very shocked at the comments made and the party’s disciplinary procedure is now activated as we speak.”