Belfast Telegraph

Caravan park murder condemned as ‘indiscriminate and callous act’

Keith Branigan, 29, was shot dead while working at the site in Co Louth on Tuesday afternoon.

The incident occurred in at caravan park at Clogherhead (PA)
The incident occurred in at caravan park at Clogherhead (PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

Gardai have described the shooting of a man working in a caravan park as an “indiscriminate and callous act”.

Keith Branigan, 29, was shot dead as he carried out work at Ashling Holiday Park in Co Louth on Tuesday afternoon.

A gunman stepped out of a red Lexus car and approached the victim before firing a number of shots at him.

Several people ran for cover to a nearby shop as the bullets ricocheted around the caravan park in Clogherhead.

A number of stray shots caused damage to two cars in a nearby car park, where children had been eating ice cream just minutes earlier.

The victim, who was married and from Drogheda, died at the scene.

Speaking outside Clogherhead garda station, Superintendent Andrew Watters said: “This was a particularly indiscriminate and callous act carried out in a very busy caravan park.

“There were a lot of families, women with young children in particular, close to the area of the shooting.

“Some of these children were enjoying the last days of the summer.

“It was very traumatic for the residents.”

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Superintendent Andrew Watters comments on the investigation into the death of 29-year-old Keith Branigan (Cate McCurry/PA)

Mr Watters confirmed it was not a drive-by shooting.

Appealing for information, he added: “The gunman then returned to the red Lexus car – registration number 05 C 24473 – that car turned left when it left the caravan park and travelled in the direction of Termonfeckin.

“My appeal today is three-fold in relation to this investigation.

“First of all, I wish to appeal to anybody in Clogherhead and the surrounding areas who may have noticed any unusual behaviour in the 48 hours leading up to this shooting, and indeed in the immediate run up to 2.50pm on Tuesday.

“Or anyone who saw any unusual cars or any unusual people within the area of Clogherhead or the surrounding areas.

“We’re trying to establish the exact direction where this red car travelled to. I’m appealing to anyone who may have seen the suspects abandoning this car to contact us.

“We believe the suspects were transferred to a second car, a black Toyota Avensis – registration plate 04 WH 8024 – that car was later located in the Clonmore estate in Ardee.

“The investigation is at a very early stage and a number of lines of investigation are ongoing.”

The killing is being treated by gardai as feud-related, but Mr Watters would not confirm whether the victim was a member of a known criminal gang.

He said there is an operation in place to deal with the escalating gang feud in Drogheda.

In a bid to allay the fears of people living in the town, he said gardai have recently made a number of “very significant” detections, arrests and prosecutions.

He added: “We have people before the courts (facing) some very serious charges and on some very strict bail conditions.

“Indeed yesterday, at the same time that this callous and indiscriminate murder took place, we had four people detained in Drogheda garda station for a serious arson attack which we classify as an attempted murder.

“I have received additional resources in the last two months, I also have the support of our regional support units who have a very visible presence.”

Sinn Fein councillor Tom Cunningham said: “The residents are shocked and appalled that something like this should happen in a picturesque fishing village, a quiet town.

“For something like this to take place in the middle of the day, at a busy caravan park, with a lot of young children having ice creams.

“It is a busy area, bullets ricocheting about the front of the shop could have hit an innocent [bystander].”

Anyone who has information to contact 041 987 4200 to contact the go to confidential line 1800 666 111.

PA

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