There was high security at Longford District Court on Tuesday as a judge said he would not allow a number of families caught up in spiralling feuds to “hold a town to ransom”.
Judge Seamus Hughes made the remarks as he remanded eight men in custody following a violent street fight in Longford town on Monday morning.
“I won’t allow a small group of men hold this town to ransom,” he said. “It won’t be tolerated any longer.”
Judge Hughes said he had viewed the incident, during which bricks, bottles and other implements were thrown between the two feuding families, causing members of the public to duck for cover.
Joe Meares (27), of Richmond Street, Longford; Johnny Nevin (23), of Richmond House, Legion Terrace, Townspark, Longford; Noel Cawley (28), of Lavender Cottage, Farnagh Hill, Longford; Johnny Doyle (23), of Richmond Street; Johnny Doyle (38), of The Mill, Clondra, Longford; William Nevin (32), of Grian Ard, Ardnacassa Avenue, Longford; Martin Nevin (37), of Canal Drive, Prospect Woods, Longford; and Martin Nevin (59), of Farnagh, Longford were all charged and remanded in custody by consent.
The charges, under public order and offensive weapons legislation, include allegations of the possession of articles including bricks, pitchforks and iron bars.
Judge Hughes said the incident, together with several other similar feud related episodes, threatened to undo the positive efforts of various bodies to to promote Longford town as a shopping destination in the lead up to Christmas.
“I have never in my 11 years on the bench seen so many gardaí present,” he said. “There must be 20 gardaí in here, you have the Armed Support Unit patrolling the town too and all of this in the week before Christmas.
“What man, woman or family will come in with a wallet of money to do their Christmas shopping when they witness the like of that?
“I want to tell the families today to bury the hatchet and I want to send out a strong message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.”
The eight men are to appear in court again on Friday.