Violent disorder outside social welfare offices in Limerick

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Joseph Keane, who has been jailed for a year for his involvement in a case of violent disorder outside the social welfare offices, pictured here at arriving at court back in 2007. Picture: Courtpix
A SON of the slain gang leader Kieran Keane has been sentenced to one year in prison for violent disorder outside the social welfare offices on Dominic Street this year, when rival factions when collecting their dole.

A SON of the slain gang leader Kieran Keane has been sentenced to one year in prison for violent disorder outside the social welfare offices on Dominic Street this year, when rival factions when collecting their dole.

Limerick Circuit Court heard that Joseph Keane, 27, with an address in Greenhills Road, Garryowen, was one of five men involved in a case of violent disorder in the city on April 14 last, where he had a “chance meeting” with one of his co-accused from a rival faction and a stand-off ensued.

Judge Tom O’Donnell heard that Keane, whose family he said is “associated with the long and bloody feud in this city for many years”, was involved in the confrontation in broad daylight outside the social welfare offices.

The offices had to be locked for security to protect the staff and members of the public inside, “such was the level of aggression shown”.

His co-accused in the case, referred to as Mr A, X, Y and Z, are also due before the courts.

The court heard that Mr A, who is involved in another faction of the feud, was involved in the stand-off, but he too took refuge inside the offices when the fracas ensued.

Detective Garda Dave Bourke said that the mob “spilled out onto the road to fight”, and that the altercation between the two factions involved members “hitting off cars”.

Gda Bourke said that CCTV footage of the conflict outside and inside the building had been viewed, and there were aggressive hand gestures and actions, though they were open to interpretation.

However, he said that the “protagonists were all clearly identifiable”.

State prosecutor John O’Sullivan BL said that the feud between the two gangs has been known for the use of the “deadliest of firearms and weapons”, but has been dormant for a number of years now. He added that the “only saving grace” in this incident was that firearms and dangerous weapons were not used by either faction.

Defending Pat Barriscale, BL, stated that his client was not involved in the escalation of the violence, though Keane admits that he was a member of the group.

The defendant previously served a six-year sentence for manslaughter, but has “not been involved in any feud-related activity since his release”, said Det Bourke.

However, he added that “the fact that his name is Keane keeps him involved”.

Keane was jailed in July 2007 for six years for the manslaughter of Darren Coughlan, 18, in 2005, alongside Richard Treacy, who was also jailed for the same period. Both were aged 19 at the time.

Joseph Keane is the son of criminal figure Kieran Keane, who was murdered in January 2003.

In imposing sentence, Judge Tom O’Donnell said that this physical confrontation in broad daylight was very frightening for the staff and public at large.

He said the prosecution had a “very coercive case” against the accused, who has several previous convictions, the most serious of which was a manslaughter charge, in addition to road traffic and public order offences.

Among the mitigating factors were, he said, his early plea, the length of time he has already spent in custody, and that he was not involved in the “physicality of this incident”.

Gardai, he said, accepted that the incident was “purely co-incidental and was not pre-meditated”.

The defendant, who pleaded guilty, faced a maximum of 10 years in prison, but was sentenced by Judge O’Donnell to three years’ imprisonment, with the final two years suspended for a period of four years.

His sentence will also be backdated to July 21 last, when he entered custody.