Garda chief appeals to Travellers as feud escalation feared

Amid fears of an escalation of a Traveller feud in Kerry, the county’s most senior garda officer has warned that violent behaviour will not be tolerated.

Violence flared just before the funeral of a woman at Rath cemetery in Tralee earlier this week, as a result of which a man was taken to hospital with slash injuries to his back and head.

Eight members of the settled Traveller community were brought before the courts in the past few days.

Yesterday, Chief Supt Pat Sullivan said the feud between the McCarthy and Faulkner families was causing serious concern and he appealed to those involved to show restraint.

“This behaviour will not be tolerated,” he said.

“I would appeal to those Travellers not to take part in criminal behaviour. If they do, there will be an immediate response from the gardaí in Tralee.”

The latest feud is believed to date back to 2004, when a member of the Faulkner family died in Tralee.

Chief Supt Sullivan said the gardaí would facilitate mediation and engagement between the sides.

Five people have been charged arising from the cemetery incident and with having weapons including claw hammers, slash-hooks, and Stanley knives.

Armed members of the Garda Response Unit were at Tralee Court for their appearance on Wednesday.

Wayne McCarthy, aged 28, Dunbee Cottage, Lower Killeens, Blarney, Co Cork; Arthur Faulkner, aged 25, Old Youghal Rd, Cork; Christopher Faulkner, aged 28, Lower Killeens, Blarney; Robert Faulkner, aged 34, of 3 Parkview, Wellington Rd, Cork; and a youth aged 15 were remanded on bail and ordered to stay out of Kerry until their next court appearance on January 21.

Three men have since been charged in connection with another incident at Tralee Rd, Castleisland, on Wednesday, during which they came in contact with the five who had earlier appeared at Tralee Court.

James McCarthy, aged 43, of 11 Muing Estate, Tralee; James O’Driscoll, aged 22, of 5 Muing Estate, and Patrick McCarthy, aged 35, of 39 Cois Coille, Tralee, were released on bail to appear at Tralee Court on January 28.

The Kerry Travellers’ Health and Community Development Project said it was utterly dismayed, and totally deplored the violent actions.

Calling for restraint, project manager Owen McCarthy said they were very concerned at the negative impact of such behaviour on the vast majority of Kerry’s 400 Traveller families, who lived peacefully.

“What is abundantly clear from our experience to date are the causes of conflict within the Traveller community are multi-faceted and require analysis and understanding to minimise their recurrence,” he said.

“Finding ways of getting sufficient community buy-in and building the Traveller community’s capacity to resolve conflict in non-violent and collaborative ways are essential.”


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