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Three held as dad killed in Traveller row

THREE men arrested following the fatal stabbing of a young father were undergoing further questioning by gardai today.

Derek McDonagh (28) was stabbed to death in broad daylight outside his parents' home in Tullamore shortly after 11am yesterday.

A large number of gardai have remained on standby in the town following the stabbing. Mr McDonagh, a settled Traveller, was described by relatives as "a lovely lad".

The killing happened following a series of confrontations involving up to 10 people which began when three men called to a house in the Arden View estate in the town.

The victim's heavily pregnant wife was being comforted by relatives and friends today. Mr McDonagh was the father of a one-year-old son.

The couple, who lived in Callery Street, were married in February last year.

Gardai reacted quickly to the incident and recovered what was believed to be the weapon used in the killing.

They then arrested three men, two of whom live on a halting site in the town. The third man is from Galway. Up to 100 members of the McDonagh family gathered at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore where the victim had been brought following the encounter.

Violence erupted between two families when one of the arrested men was taken to the hospital for treatment.

An aunt of the victim described Derek McDonagh as "a quiet lad" who never caused any trouble.

A resident of Arden View spoke of being woken by a row near the home of the victim's parents, Anthony and Theresa McDonagh, at about 9am. At 11am there was more noise and men with weapons, including a spade and pickaxe, were seen.

The neighbour heard a shout: "I'll kill you."


A blood-soaked man was seen shortly afterwards on the street not far from a primary school.

Gardai are examining CCTV footage taken from the Arden View Resource Centre, directly opposite where the attack happened, and continued to question residents.

Garda Supt John Moloney said the incident was not part of a feud but "arose out of something simple". It is understood there was a dispute between two families which may have started the previous evening.

Noel Connolly, chairman of the Arden View Resource Centre, said people in the area were shocked by the incident. He described the McDonagh family as "quiet people".

"You'd never hear a word out of them," he said.

People in the area were "devastated" by the incident, he said, adding that he hoped there would be no reprisals.

A local woman said: "You would be scared. You begin to think is anything else going to come after this?"

A mobile home at Kilcruttin halting site was set on fire last night. There is a significant garda presence in the Offaly town, including members of the Regional Response Unit.