Garda bosses have come out in support of a move to draft in several specialised and armed officers for Longford's annual Cemetery Sunday service, saying the large numbers and absence of any incident represented a "huge public statement of confidence" in the force's operations.
Hundreds of worshippers flocked to the county town's Ballymacormack Cemetery earlier this afternoon for the yearly observance of prayers and religious reflections.
And, just has been the case in and around Longford town over the past number of weeks, a heavy garda presence was on show in a bid to prevent any feud related hostilities from flaring up.
Alongside members from the Gardaí's Armed Support Unit, officers from the Air Support Unit, Dog Unit, Public Order Unit, Detective Branch and uniformed personnel were in situ for the service's entire duration.
Speaking outside the cemetery to the Leader, Superintendent Jim Delaney said the high visibility of gardaí had gone a long way towards bringing about such a large congregation within its grounds.
"I am delighted with the increase in attendance here today," he said, revealing also the fact there had been no feud related incidents since June 19.
"There is a marked increase on last year and with everything that has been going on I would say this is a huge public statement of confidence in our operations and I thank the public for their support.
"Obviously today is a day where we want everybody to be able to come to the cemetery and pay their respects to their dearly departed family members and there is a fabulous atmosphere here."
Supt Delaney said it was regretful such a high level of garda resources had to go into this afternoon's service but said the presence was necessary but also essential in ensuring Longfordians could go about their everyday affairs in a safe and secure manner.
"The Armed Support Unit are here and have been for the past number of weeks and thankfully the amount of incidents have reduced significantly and there hasn't been a feud related incident since June 19 so that's a positive step in the direction we want this to go," he said.
"We (gardaí) want it to be sustained so people can get back to normal business because we have to promote Longford as well and remember all the good things that are going on."
For more on this story, see next Wednesday's Longford Leader.
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