Gardaí are investigating seven family feuds in the Longford area. These disputes involve members of 14 traveller families.
No deaths have been reported so far, but a series of shootings, arsons and stabbings have occurred. Gardaí also believe that the violence has resulted from a fight between a number of young people.
Last week, a woman was violently assaulted in Athlone. It is believed that she was targeted in a house by two people involved in the feud.
Since then, violent rows have broken out involving sawn off shotguns, machetes, carving knives, pitch-forks, bricks and even hockey sticks.
Following this violent outbreak, Gardaí have launched a crackdown in “Operation Stola”. This was launched in both the Longford Town and south Longford area.
“High visibilty policing” from Gardaí
This operation was led by Superintendent Jim Delaney. Gardaí have also worked with the Midland Traveller Mediation Service and Pavee Point. They want to reduce tensions between the families involved in the feud.
On the situation, Supt Delaney said “Our priority is to keep people safe in Longford. We will continue to do this with a strong policing presence in the area”.
He also said, “We are assisting the organisations involved in the mediation process over the feuds but this is not a Get Out of Jail Free card. If someone commits a criminal offence and there is evidence they will be prosecuted”.
He added, “We have regular checkpoints, high visibility policing and we continually disrupt the activities of those engaged in serious crime”.
The Superintendent also said that the police are determined to protect the community of Longford as a whole.
He said, “We have also had tremendous support from our colleagues in the national units and that extra level of expertise necessary when dealing with organised crime gang activity”.
He also added, “There is a great determination and willingness among the men and women of the Longford district and the wider Garda organisation to protect both the residential and business community in this area”.
“We have benefited from the administrative support of our Garda staff members and the solid backing of our divisional officer Chief Supt Tony Healy. It is very much a team effort”.
Gardaí know of three main, established organised crime groups loitering in the Longford area at the moment. One gang has links to other gangs in Dublin and other parts of Ireland.
€50,000 worth of drugs, believed to be ecstasy and cocaine along with €40,000 in cash from a money laundering racket have all been seized from a Gardaí investigation.