“Everything seems to be coming under the umbrella of a feud and it is becoming totally unacceptable; it’s gone out of control and the damage that this is doing to the reputation of Longford is very serious,” Judge Seamus Hughes fumed during Longford District Court last week.
“If you Google Longford now, riots and feuds come up, so what is that doing to the reputation of this town? It’s out of control now.”
The judge’s comments came in the aftermath of a hearing into a public order matter which erupted outside the Department of Family Affairs in Longford town last July between members of Longford town Stokes and Granard/Edgeworthstown Stokes.
In his direct evidence to the Court, Garda Padraig McConnell said that glass bottles and stones were thrown in all directions and there was also a slash hook used in the incident.
The Garda also said that an elderly woman who was waiting in her car while her husband visited the Department of Family Affairs received a broken wrist when she attempted to seek safety “in a nearby house”.
“It was a very dangerous situation for the general public; there were children coming home from school at the time and traffic had to be stopped from entering into the Ardnacassa area,” the Garda added.
A woman who was waiting in her car while her husband visited the local social welfare office got out of the car, because she was so frightened, and in the hope that she could get safety in a nearby house, but she was struck by a weapon as she tried to escape and ended up with a broken wrist as a result. A lot of damage was done in the area, over €5,000 worth to be precise.”
Inspector Paul Cuttle then told the court that there were currently four separate feuds taking place in Co Longford.
“An elderly lady got seriously injured and there were approximately 20 gardaí involved including – what appears to me – the entire force of Co Longford, while members of the force from Co Roscommon, Co Leitrim and Co Westmeath had to be called in to assist,” Judge Hughes added. “This is totally unacceptable behaviour.”
Last October, thirteen people involved in a family feud, who pleaded guilty to violent disorder at St Joseph’s Pre-Natal Clinic in Longford town in September 2009, were convicted by Judge Rory McCabe at Longford Circuit Court.
The incident involved the Duignan and Stokes families and the Judge who initially handed down prison sentences to two women – who were pregnant at the time of the incident – and one man, but then decided to remand all accused on bail and ordered that a probation report be carried out to determine their suitability for community service.