We are ready to intervene in escalating feud, say gardaí

A feud which erupted after a First Holy Communion and continues to involve two sectors of the Kerry Traveller community remains highly volatile, the county’s main policing body was told yesterday.

We are ready to intervene in escalating feud, say gardaí

A member of the Kerry Joint Policing Committee warned yesterday the matter cannot continue to be brushed under the carpet.

“We have a feud in Killarney,” Independent councillor Donal Grady told the Joint Policing Committee.

“It is a north Kerry group versus Killarney and if something is not done shortly, something very very serious will happen.”

“This needs to be addressed as soon as possible.”

With senior gardaí present at the meeting, Mr Grady said he had thought long and hard before raising the issue. He described the feud as highly volatile.

Killarney-based Garda Supt Flor Murphy confirmed that he was aware of local “tensions”.

He had intervened and the Kerry Traveller movement was also involved, Supt Murphy advised the meeting.

The problem had started with something small, he said, with children at a post-communion event, and it had escalated from there.

“We are not mediators, we are enforcers but we did step in and intervene and, hopefully, we did so in time,” said Supt Murphy.

The gardaí, he said, would not hesitate to bring prosecutions.

A number of violent incidents in relation to the feud occurred in recent weeks, it has been claimed locally.

They included the beating up of teenagers with baseball bats in a housing estate, a street fight in Killarney town, and the arrival of a large group of Travellers from north Kerry at the home of a rival family.

On that occasion, in a housing estate, a number of Garda squad cars arrived and intervened to quell tensions.

Meanwhile, in a separate matter, extra garda resources for the town of Cahersiveen were also promised at yesterday’s meeting.

About 500 people attended a public meeting recently to voice their concern at persistent public order issues which included late-night violence, drug use, and, most recently, an alleged unlawful killing.

A petition had been signed seeking 24-hour cover and extra gardaí, and a more visible presence on patrol and on the streets.

Garda numbers in south Kerry had plummeted following a restructuring of the force in 2013.

Outlying stations at Valentia Island and Ballinskelligs have been closed.

In recent years, increasing unease continues over the eruption of rivalries between localities such as Valentia Island and the town of Cahersiveen. At one stage, a district court judge expressed concern at so many violent assaults in Cahersiveen, saying it was unlike any other Kerry town.

Kerry’s most senior officer, Chief Supt Tom Myers yesterday said the people of south Kerry were being listened to, but manpower resources were stretched.

We have an old case, the Kerry baby case, which is taking up a lot of resources,” he said.

“A recent suspected murder inquiry is taking up other resources and a number of members were injured on duty, due to an accident”.

He said five new gardaí were assigned to Killarney to cover south Kerry while, overall, 50 gardai would be assigned to the county.

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