Gardai in the city are on full alert this weekend as tensions were raised on Thursday in the ongoing Traveller feud in Waterford following the shooting of a 14-year old boy at the front door of his home in Ardmore Terrace, Ballybeg.
The boy, who was helping his mother take shopping from their car, received in the region of fifty wounds to his chest, arm and head. It is believed his injuries are not life threatening and his condition at Waterford Regional Hospital was described as stable.
The attack on the boy is the latest incident in a series of arson attacks and shootings that erupted in early July that have horrified and frightened large numbers of law abiding people, especially those living near those involved in the feud. As the violence continues, gardai have already seized guns, petrol-bombs, ammunition and an assortment of other implements capable of being used as weapons such as slash-hooks, knives and pickaxe handles.
The gunman, accompanied by two others, arrived in Ballybeg by car and crossed a green play area at Priory Lawn by foot before discharging his weapon from a distance of about 40 yards. The victim’s home and a neighbouring house were riddled with pellet fire. The getaway car was later found burnt out at Butlerstown.
Earlier in the week, a house with ten occupants at Crystal Court in Kilcohan came under fire but nobody was injured.
Councillor Tom Murphy, a resident of Ballybeg, appealed for calm and pleaded with those involved in the dispute to cease their violent activities. “If they don’t stop, I am fearful somebody will be killed”, he said.
As the feud continues, the settled community is becoming increasingly angry and resentful of those who have taken up a huge amount of garda time and resources while dragging the city’s name through the mud at the same time. There is great sympathy for the gardai dealing with a very difficult situation but, to judge from growing mutterings in factories, offices and pubs, people are very unhappy about the overall situation and they want it stopped by whatever means is at the disposal of the authorities. They also want the perpetrators of the violence brought before the courts. Many people are unhappy about a perceived ‘softly, softly’ approach being taken and talk of mediators trying to appease those involved. The saga has also hardened entrenched attitudes and set back by years relations between the settled and Traveller communities.