The ongoing Traveller feud in Waterford, involving shootings, other serious assaults and car rammings, has taken a sinister turn over recent days with bomb warnings which have resulted in street closures.
So, as well as enormous security and investigative costs which are still mounting and must be met from the public purse, there is now the added factor of major inconvenience to the self-same, law-abiding public.
Early on Tuesday afternoon, on foot of information received, gardai evacuated dozens of residents as well as office and garage personnel from Catherine St, near the city centre, as they awaited the arrival of army bomb disposal experts to investigate a suspicious device located underneath a Ford Focus car parked outside the local fire station. Five occupants of the car were arrested and taken to Ballybricken Garda Station for questioning.
Fire brigade staff were moved to Bolton Street and proceedings in the nearby courthouse had to be adjourned for the day. A large group of Travellers were in attendance at the court where six men were due to appear on charges arising from the Traveller feud.
There was a similar scenario last Friday evening when, through peak evening traffic, Grattan Quay was blocked off by gardai as army personnel again checked out a suspect device located along that route.
With frustration among the public on the rise, a special meeting of the City Council was convened last Monday evening to discuss the subject after charges against seven alleged protagonists in the Travellers row were struck out in the District Court. That followed a delay on the part of the DPP in bringing proceedings against the men.
The Council meeting was addressed by Chief Garda Supt Pat Murphy who updated the members on the situation.
Commenting during Tuesday’s disruption, former Mayor of Waterford, Cllr Tom Cunningham, said those responsible had no respect for the public, the gardai or for law and order. “It is pure and utter gangsterism and the gardai are frustrated for want of tougher laws to deal with what is an intolerable situation”, he said.
At the same time he had every faith that they would eventually get into court those driving the feud and he said that like all right-minded citizens he was totally behind them in their efforts towards that end.