Waterford feud a 12,000-hour drain on gardaí

GARDAÍ have worked more than 12,000 hours of overtime in the past two months to deal with a violent feud in Waterford city.

The feud centres around three families from the Traveller community and has involved arson attacks and shootings.

Senior officers in the city said while the violence involved just a small number of Travellers, it was having a serious impact on Garda manpower.

Superintendent Chris Delaney of Waterford Garda Station told the city joint policing committee that significant resources had to be drafted into Waterford from adjoining divisions.

He said there had been more than 100 recorded incidents concerning this feud, including public order offences, assaults, arson attacks and gun attacks.

Supt Delaney said 47 people had been arrested since the dispute flared up on July 12, with more than half of these before the courts.

A mediation process between the various families is continuing and there have been no reported incidents in the past week.

The last spate of incidents began on September 8 when a 16-year-old girl was shot with a pellet gun at the Bilberry halting site, on the outskirts of the city.

The following afternoon there was a serious ramming incident close to the Regional Sports Centre on the Cork Road, when four cars were damaged at King’s Meadow.

The previous month, Jason Stokes, aged 14, was shot in the torso as he helped his mother at the front door to their home in Ardmore Park, Ballybeg.

A couple of days later, a ramming incident in Waterford city centre resulted in a gun being thrown into a crowd of people in a beer garden by a man fleeing attackers.

Gardaí have seized a large arsenal of weapons linked to the feud, including sawn-off shotguns, ammunition, up to 40 pipe bombs as well as hatchets, slash hooks, pick axe handles, swords and hammers.

Local sources estimate that more than 60 people are involved in the feud, which includes three extended families and some of their friends.

It’s believed the origins of the dispute go back a number of years, to when a young woman from one family and a young man from another ran away to get married, without the go-ahead of their elders.

This created a certain amount of bad blood, while a bare-knuckle fist fight between individuals from different families last July sparked off a new wave of violence.

In the incident, a man suffered serious head injuries after being struck with a hammer in the head during a fight at the Six Cross Roads.

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