A senior figure in the Catholic Church has appealed for those involved in the criminal feud in Drogheda to "desist" from violence.

The Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Armagh, Bishop Michael Router, also condemned the murder of Keith Branigan, 29, in Clogherhead, Co Louth earlier this week.

It is the first time a senior church figure has commented on the feud and they were made in the first public statement by the Auxiliary Bishop since his Episcopal ordination.

Bishop Michael Router

Bishop Router said: "I want to, on behalf of all of us here and on behalf of the people and priests of the Archdiocese of Armagh, condemn in the strongest possible terms the callous murder last Tuesday of Keith Branigan in the Ashling Holiday Park in Clogherhead, Co Louth, and to offer our condolences to his wife Rachel and to their loved ones.

"Such violence and disregard for life is always appalling but for such an act to take place in a holiday camp where people were enjoying the last days of summer, and near to where children were playing, is truly shocking.

"News reports linked this murder to the ongoing feud between rival gangs in Drogheda and therefore the threat of reprisals is, unfortunately, a real one.

"Such a cycle of violence will only lead to further tragedy and loss of life so I would appeal for those involved to desist and consider the futility of their actions.

"I would ask anyone who has any information on this murder or other acts associated with the feud to bring that information to the gardaí."

Bishop Router was celebrating mass in St Michael's Church in Carlingford, Co Louth, and made his comments in his homily in what is his first public statement since his Episcopal ordination.

He told those gathered that: "All of us have an obligation as well to pray that there may be peace and harmony in communities throughout this island and for a renewal of respect for human life which has been so weakened in our society in recent years."