File photo: Kells.

Gardai investigate claims ‘vigilantes’ assaulted teens and threatened to kill them

A SERIOUS incident in Kells believed to involve the Irish Republican Socialist Party, is currently under investigation by the Gardai.

Residents of the Headfort Grove area claim that three teenage boys were badly beaten by five men who threatened to kill them if they took part in anti-social behaviour.

The IRSP Cavan Meath group stated on their Facebook page that they confronted the youths “and forced them to disperse from the area.”

The incident which occurred on Saturday 13th November,

Chief Supt Fergus Healy said a serious incident occurred in Kells which is currently being investigated and said “significant progress” was being made.

“I have spoken to the Detective Inspector and Detective Sergeant on the matter and I am satisfied that the matter is being progressed in an efficient and timely manner. As you can appreciate as it is an ongoing investigation I am unable to comment on the specifics of the case,” he said.

“I have deployed additional resources in the area concerned and the situation will be closely monitored.

“I would appeal for the support and assistance of the communities in Kells to ensure the safety of all.”

One local resident claimed that three teenage boys were in the estate, standing talking at around 4.45pm when a vehicle pulled into the estate and five men wearing balaclavas jumped out and starting beating the boys up.

He said there is a lot of anti-social behaviour in the area but the teenagers who were confronted by the men were not involved in anti-social behaviour.

“Parents are angry over the attack because the 14-year-old boys that were attacked have no involvement with the anti-social behaviour in the area, so no kids are safe from these thugs.

“During the attack the kids were told they would be killed if problems in the area carry on.

“There was some heavy bruising on the body and a black eye for both boys, who are frightened to go out, but are coping quite well.

“These thugs are operating under the Republican banner and think it’s okay to beat up innocent kids because they think it is part of their remit to protect the working- class community.

“Masked men beating up innocent teens is not on.

“We can’t have vigilantes going around thinking they are doing it for the good of the area and being allowed to get away with it,” he said.

In a post on their Facebook page, the IRSP Cavan Meath said some of their members were in Kells “at the request of multiple members of the community who asked us to show a presence in certain areas that have been subjected to anti-social behaviour recently.”

“Gangs of teens have been terrorising the area, attacking passers-by, breaking windows in houses and shooting fireworks at elderly people.

“This behaviour will not be tolerated in working class communities while we are active.

“We spoke to a number of residents who thanked us for not abandoning them and they even came out and applauded us as we confronted the culprits and forced them to disperse from the area,” according to the post.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín expressed concern at the incident. “We cannot go down the route of vigilantes operating in the area.

“Meath has the lowest number of gardai per capita in the country and I am calling on the Minister of Justice to ensure we have at least the same levels of garda numbers as elsewhere in the country,” he said.

Cllr Sarah Reilly said she was concerned about the reports of vigilante behaviour in the community.

“Many people living in the area have disclosed to me that they are disturbed by what they have witnessed. At the end of the day no one or no organisation can legitimately take the law into their own hands. My party colleagues and I are acutely aware of the issue and are actively working with the Gardai on it,” she said.

Cllr Michael Gallagher said he would not be happy with vigilantes taking control in the area.

“While there are problems with anti-social behaviour, we cannot have vigilantes taking on the role of the gardai.”

He said he has been calling for CCTV for the last number of years and urged that the process be speeded us as it would help prevent anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Sean Drew said he was made aware of these recent incidents of vigilantism by concerned local parents and residents.

“I have been in direct communication with the Gardai in Kells, also the Chief Superintendent in Meath and I understand that the incidents are currently being investigated at a senior level.

“While taking the law into one’s own hands through vigilantism cannot be condoned at any level, there is obviously an underlying issue. Anti-social behaviour by a very small minority of youths has been an intermittent problem in the general area for a number of years.

“Both local householders and myself personally have made numerous reports to Kells Gardai seeking action to curb and eliminate the activities of this small number of youngsters. While speaking with the Chief Superintendent during the past week, I have requested that additional Garda resources be dedicated to assist in resolving this underlying issue,” he said.