By Gordon Deegan
Nine men today walked free from court for their role in a "ferocious encounter" at a halting site where a number of petrol bombs were thrown and other weapons were used.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys imposing various suspended jail terms from three years to 18 months on the nine accused.
In the case, shocking video footage of the confrontation between members of the Molloys and Joyce/Quinn families was shown where one of the petrol bombs thrown was seen striking a Joyce-owned van.
Det Garda Denis Stack told the court that in the violent incident "miraculously, no one was hurt”.
Det Stack arrived at the Ballaghboy halting site on Ennis’s Quin Rd on November 24, 2016 10 minutes after members of the Joyce/Quinn families had fled and he said that “there were petrol bomb fires all over the site”.
The dispute between the traveller families was sparked off by over who won an organised 13-minute ‘fair fight’ between Martin Molloy - who is not before the court - and Thomas Quinn (19) the previous day at the site.
Det Stack said that metal bars, a golf club, a slash hook were also used in the confrontation on November 24.
The video of the encounter between the two sides showed males from the Molloy side - who live at the halting site - trying to repel the advancing Joyces and Quinns with petrol bombs.
In the case, nine men pleaded guilty to violent disorder and Judge Gerald Keys told them: “All of you behaved in an appalling manner and have brought great shame on your whole community. Each of you owe an apology to your fellow travellers for the shame you have brought upon them.” (Seven of the accused were travellers.)
Judge Keys said that the aggravating factor was the nature of the violent order itself, the weapons used “and that petrol bombs were primed well in advance”.
Judge Keys said that the mitigating factors were pleas of guilty and that the accused have shown some remorse and shame for the conduct.
One of the accused and head of the Joyce family, John Joyce Snr (67) told the court that he was “sorry it happened and it shouldn’t have happened”.
In the case, the court also viewed two videos of travellers 'calling out' for a fight that were posted on Facebook and Judge Keys accused the travellers of engaging in “macho, childish behaviour”.
Judge Keys opted not to jail any of the accused after hearing that peace has since broken out between all sides and that the families paid into court €10,000 to three charities.
On the "fair fight" Det Stack said: “The fight lasted for 13 minutes and it was stopped and declared a draw. There was a dispute between the Molloys and the Quinn/Joyces in relation to the result. The Molloys believed that they had won the fight and there a disagreement over the outcome of the fight.”
Det Stack said that the following morning on November 24th, three men including two from the Joyce family came to the Ballaghboy site.
There were no male Molloys there and later after later hearing of the visit, the Molloys posted a video on Facebook calling out the Joyces.
In the video, Thomas Molloy said: “Come out and see what ye do.”
Pointing to his brother, Martin Molloy, Thomas Molloy said: “This fella beat the shit out of Tommy Quinn. End of story. We are here, come out.”
The Joyces and Thomas Quinn later arrived at the site resulting in the 'petrol bomb' violent disorder incident with the Molloy side.
In the case, Judge Keys imposed suspended jail terms on John Joyce Snr (67), Bernard Joyce (21) and Patrick Joyce of Watery Road, Ennis; and David Joyce (41), with an address at Ballymacraven Halting Site, Kilfenora.
Judge Keys also imposed suspended jail terms on Thomas Molloy (25), James Molloy (19), Andre Donnegan (26) and Conor Mahon (26) of Ballaghboy Halting Site.
Judge Keys also imposed a suspended jail term on Thomas Quinn Jnr (19) of Lower Killeens, Commons Road, Blarney, Co Cork.