ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan has expressed relief that his publican brother wasn't seriously injured after he was attacked by an angry mob of Travellers.
Paddy Hogan had to be admitted to hospital on Sunday night after the incident in his pub, The Hogan Stand, in Tullow, Co Carlow.
Earlier in the day, Paddy had met his brother, Carlow-Kilkenny TD Phil Hogan, at Croke Park for Kilkenny's All-Ireland senior hurling clash with Galway.
However, shortly after he returned to work in Tullow, he was set upon by a gang of men and women who were members of the Travelling community.
Bottles, glasses and a hanging basket were flung at Mr Hogan as he tried to stop up to a dozen men and women entering his premises.
Phil Hogan told the Irish Independent that his brother was "very lucky he didn't lose an eye" in the attack.
"It was an anti-social binge and it's now a matter for the Garda Siochana," Phil Hogan said.
"It could have been more serious, but it was a horrific attack and very traumatic," he added.
Travellers' rights group Pavee Point spokesman Martin Collins said the attack was "highly regrettable".
"It is not acceptable, it is inexcusable that anybody would do this regardless of ethnic origin," he said.
He added: "I only hope that people will not generalise all Travellers as being inherently violent."
Paddy Hogan said he served a Traveller at around 10pm on Sunday night.
"He told me he had friends coming and I cautioned him to behave himself," he said.
Minutes later, another man appeared, who Mr Hogan deemed too drunk to serve. The group were drinking heavily in Tullow for a number of hours prior to arriving at The Hogan Stand. "I refused him. He had enough drank but then he grabbed a pint glass from another customer and tried to hit me in the face with it. Only that a customer grabbed him, it would have hit me in the face," he added.
With the aid of a customer, Mr Hogan tried to eject the aggressive man from the pub, but at the door they were met by a gang of up to a dozen men and women, all brandishing bottles and glasses.
"There's a lot of talk about Travellers' rights, but what about the publicans? If I refuse to serve someone, I'm in trouble, but what if I do serve someone and this happens? It's a no-win situation," Mr Hogan said.
Inside the pub, Mr Hogan's partner Trish Kennedy, a female member of staff, and almost 20 customers were stunned as the horrific scene unfolded.
"I've never seen anything like it. We locked all the doors and called the guards. No-one left until the guards arrived," said Mr Hogan.
"We were too afraid to stay here on Sunday night," admitted Mr Hogan, whose home is attached to the premises.
Mr Hogan spent three hours in hospital where he underwent X-rays, head scans and treatment for the cuts to his face.
President of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland Gerry Rafter last night expressed sympathy for Paddy Hogan.
"There are times when the law would appear to give little protection to legitimate business people, acting in the best interest of their business and their customers, and as a result the balance seems to be against people carrying out lawful business," he said.
He added: "That anomaly needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency so that consumers and publicans know exactly where they stand."
Tullow gardai confirmed that the matter is being investigated and CCTV footage has been downloaded.
"We have a certain number of suspects identified and an investigation in ongoing," stated Sgt Joe Hanley.