Gardaí at the scene of a daylight knife attack in Longford town last week Picture: Shelley Corcoran
Two violent incidents on the streets of Longford within the space of four days of each other and which left two men in hospital has been branded as little more than 'absolute thuggery'.
They were the scathing comments made by the chair of Longford's Joint Policing Committee Cllr Gerry Warnock as the fallout from the events of last week stepped up a gear.
Cllr Warnock even went as far as to suggest the dilemma facing law enforcement and garda bosses was so grave it could be considered one of 'national emergency' proportions.
“I'm absolutely disgusted with the latest incidents perpetrated by a small handful of thugs.
“Not for the first time the decent people of Longford, in these instances shoppers, are being caught in the middle of this apparently normalised feuding.
“Well, to me it’s not normal, it’s simple thuggery that should in no way ever be accepted by a decent society.”
Cllr Warnock said the use of the term “feuding” and its devastating after effects was happening all too frequently, both in Longford and other counties.
“It is my opinion that this issue could be considered a national emergency in terms of law enforcement and public order,” he said.
In a further appeal to government chiefs and legislators, Cllr Warnock said the time had come to “put away the PC hat” and take a more rigorous approach to “these thugs once and for all”.
Those comments follow two separate and violent incidents at busy shopping outlets within a matter of days of each other.
The first, which occurred outside discount grocery store Aldi, just off the main Killashee Road last Monday week, resulted in a man in his 20s being airlifted to St James' Hospital in Dublin.
He was treated for suspected stab wounds to his head and arm after falling victim to an attack at around 2.30pm.
In the wake of that incident and as preliminary inquiries had barely got off the ground, gardaí were forced to deal with an unconnected episode at the N4 Axis Centre last Friday afternoon.
On this occasion, the victim was allegedly attacked in front of alarmed shoppers by a number of men armed with batons and wearing balaclavas.
It was enough to prompt garda bosses to summon the assistance of the force's Armed Support Unit in a bid to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation but also to underpin public confidence and safety.
Supt Jim Delaney expressed his concern over both events and urged those involved to take a "step back" and consider the damage such episodes were having on their community.
“Obviously, we (gardaí) are not going to sit on our hands and we are hoping to reassure the public in relation to public safety by taking these steps (bringing in Armed Support Unit), increasing our visibility and putting on as many extra patrols as I can possibly do," he said.
“All these people are doing is damaging the good name of Longford and they are trying to drag down all the good work that has been done.
“We (gardaí) certainly don't condone this type of behaviour and I am sure that goes for most people and in that respect I would ask them to desist from this type of behaviour immediately."