By Patrick Markey
Gardai in Galway have unearthed what they believe is a major protection racket involving members of the city’s Chinese business community who were forced to hand over payments in the face of violent threats.
The Connacht Tribune reports that Interpol has been investigating a number of suspects who are believed to be Chinese in origin. The investigation follows an incident where three men who investigators believe demanded money from a local business were caught by Gardai.
Gardai believe the three men, who traveled from Dublin, are part of a wider network involved in protection rackets.
The three men are said to have arrived in Galway armed with iron bars and knives and approached the owner of a Chinese restaurant. The owner refused to hand over cash, and one man was hospitalized and another two taken into custody in the following scuffle.
“The investigations are at an early stage at the moment, but we are anxious to find out if other restaurant owners have been approached in a similar manner,” Supt. Mick Curley told the paper.
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Caught on Camera
It sounded like a great crime-fighting idea, but in the end privacy won over policing.
Cotehill Town commissioners decided recently to shoot down a Gardai suggestion that surveillance cameras could help battle local joyriders and vandals, the Anglo-Celt paper reports.
The cameras could quite easily be used to spy on legitimate activities, such as courting couples and mates enjoying a few drinks, the commissioners complained.
The idea for the cameras followed a recent spate of local violence and late-night crime, which keeps the town “in turmoil” until 5 a.m. Despite their reservations over the necessity of more crime-fighting equipment, several commissioners expressed concern over how else the cameras may have been used.
Violent weekend in Limerick
Limerick city witnessed one of its most violent weekends recently when nine people were hospitalized. Two of the victims are said to be lucky to be alive.
The Limerick Leader reports that the attack on one of the victims, a local priest, Fr. Liam Kelly, has caused the most concern.
Kelly was savagely assaulted, sustaining massive blood loss and a perforated lung after being stabbed seven times with his own letter opener by what investigators believe were two teenage heroine addicts.
In a separate attack, 22-year-old Loyla Hannon, a Dell employee who was attending one of the factory’s social functions narrowly escaped after being stabbed in the throat, when four men barged into the event.
More than 30 gardai are investigating the Kelly attack, according to one of the detectives heading the investigation, Det Insp. John O’Reilly.
The garda force is hunting for two youths, one said to be aged between just 14 and 15 years old and the other 17 to 18 years old, who broke into the priest’s bungalow at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday
“They woke him from a deep sleep and stabbed him seven times in the back and chest before tying him up with the cable from his telephone. They stole his wallet which contained a small amount of cash. There was no need or excuse for the violence they used; he’s 63-years-of-age,” O’Reilly said.
It took Kelly two hours to free himself before managing to stagger to a neighbor’s house. He is still in serious but not life threatening condition. Doctors have said that Kelly was within minutes of losing his life.
Derry kids bring home gold
Three Derry youngsters have just returned from the USA Games for the Physically Challenged with 15 gold medals, the Derry Journal reported recently.
Karen Meenan, James Quigley and Donovan McKeever, all members of the Family Information Group, put on a startling performance at the Games in Long Island. James captured seven gold, Karen four gold and Donovan came home with four gold and a bronze.
The Irish team brought back a total of 115 gold medals, 21 silver and 4 bronze.
The children spent their time away from the sporting event visiting New York and meeting with dignitaries from the Irish Consulate, making for an all-round successful trip.
“The focus of the Games for the Physically Challenged has always been on the abilities of the participants rather than the disabilities,” explained Brendan McKeever, one of the FIG leaders, who accompanied the athletes on their trip.