“They’re not men, they’re only rats,” Bridget Delaney Senior said.
She was speaking as her daughter was recovering from surgery in hospital after she was shot in her leg, stomach and in her side outside her home in Waterford city.
Bridget Delaney, aged 16, was shot as she tried to close the gates at the entrance to the Bilberry halting site in Waterford city at about 10.35pm on Monday, according to family members.
The girl, who was wearing pyjamas at the time of the attack, was rushed to Waterford Regional Hospital where she underwent life-saving surgery.
A HSE spokesman said she was in a stable condition. Gardaí cordoned off the area pending technical examination. No firearm was recovered in the incident and no arrests have yet been made.
The incident is thought to be related to an ongoing dispute in the city.
A car thought to have been used in the attack was found burnt out in the Gracedieu area.
Speaking from her mobile home at the site, Bridget Delaney Snr said: “I thought she was going to die. I genuinely thought my child was dead.”
And while the girl is in a stable condition, the girl’s bowel has been badly damaged in the attack, according to her mother.
The injured girl’s brother Michael, 21, said that it could not have been a case of mistaken identity because of the strong lighting at the halting site entrance.
The incident comes less than a month after Jason Stokes, aged 14, was shot in the torso as he helped his mother by his front door in Ardmore Park, Ballybeg.
“A fella drove in here about half nine and he was looking for one of the boys,” said Mrs Delaney.
“But we took no heed of who he was. He just went back out,” said the mother of seven who has been living at the site for the past 13 months.
At about 10.35pm, a man in a white Adidas tracksuit with a bag in his hand walked up to the entrance, she said.
“I said to my daughter: ‘Bridget, come in quick’ and the next thing he shot at my daughter. There was three or four shots.
“She was hurt and roaring. When I went out, my child was thrown on the ground.”
Michael Delaney, added: “The child was going to close the gate, a man told her to ‘stand still’ and he shot her.
“I pulled her into my van and he sped off, now we’re all in bits. There’s a feud going on in this town, but we’ve got nothing to do with it,” he said.
“Everyone in this town is in fear of their lives.”
In tears, Mrs Delaney said: “She couldn’t talk. She was just going out and back.”
Margaret Delaney said: “My sister was lying on top of my hands. She was saying, ‘help me, help me’ and she was crying.”
When Margaret asked her sister who had carried out the shooting, she named the attacker.
“Then she said, ‘Don’t let me go’. She went white and then closed her eyes and she went.”
“Who’s the cowards now? They shot a little girl. There’ll have to be something done with these people,” she said. “There should be justice.”
Mrs Delaney added: “There was petrol bombs thrown in before and we got over that. I want protection. This place is condemned — there’s only one way in and one way out.”
The ongoing dispute
is understood to have started on July 12 last during a bout of bare knuckle boxing at the Six Cross Road.
It has seen arson attacks, shootings and firearm related incidents.
More than 20 men have appeared in court charged in connection with the feud, which involves several Traveller families based in Waterford.
Meanwhile, two men in their mid-20s were arrestedtwo men were last night being questioned in connection with a ramming incident involving four cars on the Cork Road near the Regional Sports Centre at 12.15pm yesterday.
One man was taken to Waterford Regional Hospital for treatment.
Anyone with information can contact gardaí in Waterford on 051 305300.