The Mayor of Waterford has agreed to convene a special meeting of the City Council on Monday to discuss the fallout from the recent Travellers’ feud. This follows the Director of Public Prosecutions’ delay in bringing proceedings against a number of alleged protagonists, culminating in charges against seven men being struck out in the local District Court this week.
Local Workers’ Party councillor Davy Walsh had called on Mayor Jack Walsh to gather the elected members, together with the Waterford Garda Superintendent PV Murphy, for a review of recent happenings.
He made his request “in view of the wide-spread public unease at the decision of the DPP not to proceed presently against alleged active participants in the feud”, which, he said, “has terrorised innocent people and resulted in the burning of 10 to 12 houses.”
A special session will be convened at 4.30pm, prior to the monthly Council meeting. Cllr Walsh stressed he wants a calm debate – “not a knee-jerk response” – so that sufficient time can be made available to properly debate the issues involved.
After running up an overtime bill of €400,000, representing 13,000 additional man hours, Waterford Garda chiefs are currently preparing “a business case” for the allocation of more officers to help keep the peace among the feuding Traveller factions.
Though outside of his constituency, Laois-Offaly Fine Gael TD Charles Flanagan felt compelled to raise the issue in the Dáil. “It is totally unacceptable that, in a very small area of Waterford city in recent times, 14 houses have been burnt down, two children have been shot and injured and a large cache of weapons has been uncovered and seized,” he said.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern replied that the situation presented an “unprecedented… policing and public safety challenge… I hope and pray the efforts that have been made in regard to mediation will work,” he said, adding that “this illegal and reckless behaviour… [seems] to have died down for the time being. A number of people have been arrested and are being brought before the courts.”
Local Fine Gael TD John Deasy, who praised the “great professionalism and dedication” of those officers on duty during the Travellers row, has written to Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy seeking additional manpower for Waterford City and is confident of a positive response.
See court case page 2.