Monday 23 October 2017

'Pay us or we'll kill your son'

By Fintan Lambe

Garda on duty.
Garda on duty.
Garda on duty.

THE owner of a Gorey business which was targeted with a petrol bomb on Wednesday night has said he refuses to be bullied by the local gang which demanded as much as €20,000 from him in supposed ‘protection money.’

Lorcan Byrne runs Lorcan Byrne Interiors on the Coach Road in Gorey said he is aware of other businesses in the town that have been targeted by the same gang.

The front window of his premises was smashed last Wednesday night, and a petrol bomb set alight on the path outside.

‘I have a business that is doing very well, and I have six or seven lads working for me, full-time and part-time. They see I’m doing well,’ he said. ‘It’s not just me they’re doing it to. I know that other places have been approached in the town.’

‘When they called first, they said they wanted €20,000. When they didn’t get that, they rang ten days later and wanted €2,500 within 24 hours.’ The businessman told them they wouldn’t be getting any money from  him.

‘Then they came back looking for €4,500 or they would kill my son,’ he continued. ‘They also said they were going to visit the shop. They came on Wednesday night and broke the window and lit the petrol bomb outside. There’s a restaurant and apartments upstairs. It could have been a lot more serious.’

He added that two weeks ago, they kidnapped his son, and tied him up, put him in a van, beat him up, and threw him into a forest, and drove off saying they would kill his girlfriend,’ he continued.

‘The people of Gorey have been very good to me, and I thank them for their support, but this could close us down, and I’ve done nothing wrong,’ he said. ‘I won’t be bullied by anyone. These lads are cowards.’

He called on all the businesses in the town to stand up to the gang, to unite against them, and not be afraid of them. ‘There are enough bullies in the school playground without having to deal with them in work,’ he stated. ‘I’ve been getting phone calls at all hours of the day and night, looking for protection money.’

Another business owner contacted this newspaper this week and confirmed he also had received threats to his business.

‘I got a phone call saying they wanted so much a week or they would do damage to me or my family,’ he said, asking not to be identified. ‘People are being threatened. I know myself and two other businesses have been threatened. People are too afraid to go to the gardaí.’

Gardaí have confirmed they are investigating the petrol bomb incident on The Coach Road at around 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday night, and are taking it very seriously, but had no further comment to make.

It is believed a rock was used to smash the window. The investigation into the attack is continuing, and witnesses who were in the area on Wednesday night are asked to come forward with any information.


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