Cllr Seamus Butler (FF).
Gardaí in Longford have deployed armed forces to patrol the streets of Longford town, in a bid to tackle the increased incidents of violence caused by feuding families.
Over the past ten weeks, there have been 43 incidents of violence, arson and criminal damage reported in the Longford and Granard districts of the county.
In an interview with Sean O’Rourke show on RTÉ radio one earlier today, Thursday June 20, Longford Municipal district Cllr Seamus Butler described the people behind the feuds as the “Escobars of Ireland”. He also said to call it a feud was a misnomer.
“These people are the Escobars of Ireland.” he said.
He added, “I would say there is a core group of 25 people, three or four families.
“I believe the authorities know exactly who these people are...Their display of wealth is so ostentatious that they couldn’t but be well-known.”
Cllr Butler said he is ‘glad’ the armed response unit have been deployed to Longford, after recent arson attacks and attempted murders. He says the increased feuds in the town was one of the biggest issues raised among the public while out on the canvass during the recent local elections.
“I am glad the armed response unit is in Longford, as people will feel safer.” He said.
“People were telling us it was the biggest single issue by far on the doors during the recent local elections.
“We do not want Longford to be defined by this, there are many good things happening here.” Cllr Butler reiterated.
Cllr Butler said it is the small minority that are tainting the image of Longford.
He said, “A very small criminal minority are dragging the name of Longford down.
“I think it should be put down to what it is and that is absolute criminality.
“It should be dealt with totally as criminal activity.”
Also speaking on the show was mediator Miceál O'Herlihy, who spoke of the great work being carried out by Longford gardaí and agreed that the actions in question were cases of serious criminality. He then praised the benefits of mediation.
“Violence can end through negotiation as well as criminal prosecution.” He said.
Cllr Butler then responded by questioning whether this would be possible, with families who hold links to the Kinahan gangs in Dublin.
“There are ties to that gang in Longford.
"This is pure and utter criminality on a serious scale.” said the incoming chair of the joint policing committee.
Cllr Butler then reissued calls for the Criminal Assets Bureau and Revenue Commissioners to become more involved in Longford and called for further resources to allow more foot patrols to take place.
"The hostages involved are the good people in Longford, the 99.9% of people who are good," said Cllr Butler.
Cllr Butler concluded by saying the criminals involved are not afraid of the potential criminal proceedings against them, but are more in fear of losing their assets, noting that this is the way to tackle the issue.
"What they fear most is not imprisonment. They don't fear that as much as having their ill-gotten gains and assets taken away from them." he said.
"These are the Escobars of Ireland." Cllr Butler concluded.
In a recent meeting of Longford County Council, Butler said the council needs to stand strong in the face of criminal activity.
"I hope that all 18 councillors will be able to work together and, when we speak out against this and ask for it to be dealt with by the authorities, that we do it as 18, not individuals,” he implored.
“Because anyone can be targeted. These people are ruthless. They’re criminals. They have no respect for man or beast or God. And we have to weed them out of Longford for the betterment of the whole community.
“And I would ask you all to work with me, particularly on the JPC in that respect.” he said.