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Travellers brawl at Mass in cemetery

A NUMBER of people received minor injuries when a serious public-order incident erupted before a Mass in a cemetery.

Gardai recovered craft knives, golf clubs and hammers after over 100 members of two rival Traveller families clashed shortly before 3pm yesterday at Ballyglass Cemetery in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Around 2,000 people were in attendance at the Mass for Cemetery Sunday devotions when the violence flared. One elderly woman, who was not in the company of either family, received injuries when she was hit by a rock.

It is believed those involved in the confrontation live outside the Co Westmeath area but have relatives buried at the graveyard in Mullingar.

Gardai managed to control the situation when they ejected one of the families from the cemetery. The Garda helicopter was deployed.

According to Sergeant Kieran Williams of Mullingar garda station, it was "a miracle more people weren't injured". He said: "There were women and children extremely frightened over the incident."

Gardai acting on information had carried out searches at the graveyard earlier in the day and "had extra resources deployed, including the air support unit," he explained.

He said a small number of people received minor injuries from missiles thrown and the situation was brought under control when "we basically removed one of the rival families from the graveyard".

One man in his late 40s was arrested for public-order offences. He is being detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act at Mullingar garda station.

Sgt Williams is appealing for anyone with information in relation to the incident to contact Mullingar garda station on (044) 938 4000 or the Garda Confidential Line at 1800 666 111.

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