Friday 22 February 2019

Graveyard search for weapons before Traveller funeral

A large garda armed presence is in situ in Longford town this afternoon amid fears of an outbreak of violence at a Traveller funeral.
A large garda armed presence is in situ in Longford town this afternoon amid fears of an outbreak of violence at a Traveller funeral.
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

A graveyard was searched for weapons and bombs ahead of a funeral in the Midlands yesterday over an escalating Traveller feud.

More than 50 gardaí were involved in the operation ahead of the funeral of Maureen Stokes (93) at St Mel's Cathedral in Co Longford.

The special policing plan was put in place after an outbreak of violence linked to an ongoing feud between two families in a different county the previous day.

At a removal in Mervue, Co Galway, on Sunday three men were injured following a shooting, an assault with a hatchet and a suspected acid attack.

The spate of violent attacks occurred outside the Holy Family Church at around 3pm at a removal.

A man in his 30s was shot in the leg and brought to University Hospital Galway, while a second man in his late teens was taken to the same hospital with a stab wound to the back. Gardaí believe he was attacked with a hatchet.

A third man received minor injuries in an assault on Walter Macken Road, and gardaí are investigating if a corrosive substance was used.

Shortly after 3.30pm a male youth was arrested nearby with an offensive weapon. He has since been released and has cautioned under the Juvenile Diversion Programme.

The shooting and assaults are all linked to a feud in the Midlands which has seen a number of attacks.

Following Sunday's violence, Garda management moved to put a special policing plan in place to prevent any further incidents at the funeral of Maureen Stokes. As part of the operation, the graveyard was searched for bombs and weapons, but nothing was found and the service passed off without incident.

A separate funeral not linked to the feuding families was also taking place at the time.

Many of Ms Stokes' relatives returned to their homes in UK last night on ferries after attending the funeral in Longford.

Irish Independent

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