Athlone ‘effectively shut down’ for funeral, Traveller group says

Councillors say businesses ‘unaffected’ by Garda operation for Barney McGuinley funeral

Local businesses were “unaffected” as gardaí put a major security operation into place for the funeral of Barney McGuinley in Athlone on Monday, say local councillors.

However, reports from the Traveller community say the town was “effectively shut down” during the funeral.

Mr McGinley (63), was shot dead at a family wedding in Co Fermanagh last week.

He was a member of the Travelling community originally from Athlone and he lived in Co Longford.


Gardaí had previously said security was in place as the chief suspect in Mr McGinley’s murder and the accomplices were at large.

The public order unit, the Garda dog unit and the Garda helicopter were all set aside for the ceremony in the rural area.

Local Cllr Aengus O’Rourke (FF) said reports the town was on “lockdown” were “nonsense”.

“Those sort of remarks were totally overstated. I work and live in town, and business is continuing as usual,” he said.

“There’s generally more Garda cars around the place and I saw one check point but no restrictions.”

Cllr O’Rourke said there was an “overriding sense of sympathy” from the town for the grieving family.

“People wanted to give them space to grieve as you would expect any family would want,” he said.

Martin Collins of Traveller support organisation Pavee Point said businesses, including restaurants, cafes and hotels, were closed during the wake, removal and burial of Mr McGinley over the weekend and Monday.

“That’s the information I’m getting from Travellers in the town,” he said.

“It’s a common occurance every time a Traveller funeral takes place the town effectively shuts down. It’s an absolutely shocking and unacceptable, and it sends so out negative message. It’s a serious issue that needs to be dealt with.”

Cllr Paul Hogan (SF) said a very strong Garda presence could be felt as extra gardaí were drafted into the town for the day.

He said it was “business as usual” from what he saw during the weekend.

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty is Digital Features Editor and journalist with The Irish Times