Man arrested for Drogheda feud caravan park murder is suspect in other shootings
Keith Branigan was shot dead in August 2019
June 13 2022 06:41 PM
Two people with links to the gang led by paralysed gang boss Owen Maguire are in custody this evening being questioned about the gun murder of Keith Branigan (29) in 2019.
Branigan became the first fatality in the deadly Drogheda feud when he was shot dead at a caravan park in Clogherhead, Co Louth, in broad daylight on August 27 that year – there have since been three more murders linked to the bitter criminal dispute.
“A woman (20s) and man (40s) are currently being detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007, at Balbriggan and Drogheda garda stations,” a garda spokesman said in a statement.
The arrests happened today in Ardee, Co Louth, where both suspects are based and are the first detentions in the lengthy murder probe which has been ongoing for almost three years.
Detectives have been working on the theory that Branigan was targeted by the Maguire gang because of his association with the leader of the rival Drogheda mob who is currently based abroad and facing serious feud related charges before the courts.
Branigan was not considered a major criminal but was very friendly with a number of senior members of the so-called anti-Maguire faction.
The 47-year-old man who was arrested today is extremely well known to gardaí for offences including serious assault and was considered a trusted member of the Maguire gang but he may have fallen out with his former friends in recent times.
He has also been involved in a number of separate serious feuds in the Ardee area.
Sources say he has also been investigated for two gun attacks on the rival gang leader that occurred in 2019 before Branigan was shot dead.
The 26-year-old woman who was arrested has also come to adverse garda attention and was living with the arrested man at one stage.
Speaking in the aftermath of the murder of Branigan, Superintendent Andrew Watters made an appeal for information over the cold-blooded murder, which he described as “indiscriminate and callous”.
He said at least two people were involved and expressed his condolences to the victim’s family.
“This was a particularly indiscriminate and callous act carried out in a very busy caravan park,” Supt Watters said.
“There were a lot of families, women with young children in particular, close to the area of the shooting. Indeed some of these children were enjoying the last days of their summer holidays.”
He said gardaí had established that a red Lexus with the registration 05C24473 entered the caravan park and a gunman got out of the car. He then opened fire on Mr Branigan, with a number of stray bullets also hitting two parked cars nearby.
Gardaí believe the gunman then fired another volley of four shots at Branigan who was caught in between two pieces of decking that he was working on.
Branigan was considered a mid-level member of the Drogheda crime gang involved in the feud with a Traveller gang linked to Owen Maguire, who himself was shot and seriously injured in July 2018, an attack which has left him paralysed.
Originally from Ballsgrove in Drogheda, Branigan had a number of convictions including for assault, burglary and criminal damage.
Mourners at his funeral mass heard how the newly-wed was a “bubbly” and “much-loved character”.
Fr Phil Gaffney made a plea from the alter at the Church of the Holy Family for the men and women involved in the feuding to stop the violence.
The parish priest also said people should observe the rule of law, “particularly for those who could be planning revenge” for the murder of Keith Branigan.
However this plea fell on deaf ears with dozens of criminal incidents linked to the feud happening since then including the murders of Keane Mulready Woods, Robbie Lawlor and Richie Carberry.
But the feud has been calm for over a year at this stage with many of its main protagonists either locked up or out of the country.