Armed gardaí deployed in Longford amid feud between families
Spate of recent violence includes stabbings, arson attacks and hit-and-run
The GRA said armed gardaí were welcome but Longford needed additional regular members of the force.
More gardaí patrolling the streets of Longford are the only long term solution to the ongoing feud between two factions in the town according to a member of the Garda Representative Association (GRA).
Dave Conroy, the area GRA representative, who is based in nearby Ballymahon, made the comments after it was announced that armed gardaí had been posted to the streets of Longford town.
He said that armed response units will temporarily halt violence and public order offences, but the only long term solution is to have more uniformed (unarmed) gardaí “on the streets.”
Armed patrols commenced in the town on a daily basis about a week ago to deal with an outbreak of violence and public order offences between feuding local families.
Superintendent Jim Delaney said the move had been taken following 43 incidents of violence, criminal damage and arson in the last 10 weeks in the Co Longford garda districts of Longford Town and Granard.
These incidents included four stabbings, two arson attacks and a number of incidents where individuals sustained serious injuries.
Mr Conroy told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that gardaí have not been able to actively engage with the feuding families as they are “operating a fire brigade service, going from call to call”.
The force is operating on a very tight overtime budget and there simply aren’t enough gardaí patrolling the streets, he said. “The only answer is there needs to be guards on the street, in their faces so they can’t behave like that.”
He said that support is regularly brought into Longford from Garda stations in Ballymahon and Lanesboro which then left those communities in a vulnerable position.
Mr Conroy said that he knew some of the individuals involved and his understanding was that they were refusing to engage in mediation. “There are some elements that don’t feel talking is the answer.”
Supt Delaney said the decision to call upon a greater armed presence was designed to not just quell any ongoing tensions but also to allay fears among the wider public.
“We (gardaí) will be having members of the Armed Support Unit in town on a more regular basis as we want to get a more continued presence in the area,” he said.
“There is, and has been, a chronology of events and it involves not just two family members, but branches of different feuds that are ongoing.”
News of the intended heightened garda presence comes on the back of a number of incidents last week, the latest of which saw a number of shots fired through the front window of a house in Longford town.
Gardaí are also investigating the circumstances behind four stabbings as well as a suspected hit and run incident which left a father and his son requiring hospital treatment.