A highly respected member of the Travelling community is understood to have died from Covid-19 complications this week
Armed gardai will be monitoring whether a Traveller funeral tomorrow morning will be the focus of breaching strict coronavirus regulations and if violence could break out in the aftermath of it.
The funeral in north Dublin is due to go ahead after the death of a highly respected member of the Traveller community aged in his late 70’s who is understood to have died earlier this week from complications linked to Covid-19.
Senior sources expressed “grave concern” after gardai received intelligence that “up to 70 members” of the deceased man’s family were planning to travel from the UK to attend the funeral.
Since the death of the elderly man – who had no involvement in crime – there have been intensive discussions between senior gardai and community policing officers who patrol the area where the funeral will take place.
Senior sources say that gardai have warned that “no more than 10 people” can attend the event but it remains to be seen what will happen so it is unclear what the people who have travelled from the UK will do.
To compound the tense situation, gardai are aware that some associates of the tragic man who died in a north Dublin hospital this week are involved in a Traveller feud with another faction.
“There was an incident at a north Dublin halting site on Thursday morning in which gardai received reports that slash hooks were produced in the course of an altercation linked to this,” a senior source said.
“However when armed gardai arrived at the scene those involved in the altercation had left the scene and no arrests were made.
“A policing plan has been put in place for this funeral and there are genuine concerns about violence in the aftermath because of the feud and of course breaches of the Covid-19 regulations,” the source explained.
The development comes after residents of a Co Offaly town have expressed concerns that social distancing guidelines were ignored at a large funeral there earlier this week.
The concerns arose when more than 150 people from the Traveller community attended the burial in a small cemetery in Birr.
More than 50 cars and vans were parked outside the cemetery, prompting concerns in the local community about the lack of social distancing.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, gardaí have worked with the Traveller community to produce an educational video which details the risks of the pandemic and offers advice about how to protect people from the virus.
The Traveller and Roma human rights organisation Pavee Point today (FRI) issued a statement on Traveller funerals calling on Travellers to fully adhere to COVID-19 public health measures.
“Both the Government and the Catholic Church have stated that only immediate family members - up to a maximum of 10 people - should attend church and graveside services and physical distancing should be maintained at all times,” the Pavee Point statement raid.
“This relates to ALL funerals, including those of people who have died of COVID-19.There are no post-funeral social gatherings and An Gardaí Síochana have powers to enforce COVID-19 restrictions during this crisis.
“These restrictions are not easy and Traveller organisations understand the importance of funerals to bereaved families.
“We want to make sure people take the long-term view on this. We want to make sure that as many people as possible are around to support bereaved families in the future.
“Bereaved families are vulnerable, may be in a state of shock and feel unable to get the message across that it’s ok to stay away from a funeral. But, given the COVID-19 situation, bereaved families do understand that people need to stay at home,” yesterday’s statement read.
It added: “The COVID-19 crisis is particularly hard on Travellers given underlying health conditions and overcrowded living conditions.
“Gathering at funerals is a sure-fire way to make the situation worse and pass on the virus if any one person does happen to have it.
“This puts the whole Traveller community at further risk. By adhering to the restrictions, we can do our part in reducing (as far as possible) further spread of virus and/or prevent any unnecessary deaths.”