A significant street disturbance in Co Westmeath during which a group of young people armed with weapons attacked houses and threatened locals has raised fears that feuding in the Midlands has escalated significantly.
Some of those involved were armed with pick axe handles and iron bars while a shovel and pitchfork were also produced at one point.
A number of properties were extensively damaged, with upstairs and downstairs windows broken and hall doors destroyed. At least 15 young people were involved, some of whom appeared to be children in their early to mid-teens. At one point four houses on the local authority estate were under attack at the same time.
The attack on a housing estate in Mullingar was pre-planned, gardaí believe, with a group of young males arriving armed and with their faces covered. While the occupants of the houses eventually came outside to remonstrate with the attackers, some of the young males then began throwing rocks at them, forcing them back into their homes.
A number of uniform unarmed gardaí arrived on the scene within minutes of the attack getting under way and the incident came to an end.
A total of five arrests were made as part of the Garda’s investigation into violent disorder and criminal damage. While the attack occurred last Thursday evening, news of the incident only emerged this weekend.
A large number of onlookers witnessed the attack at about 6pm with people coming out of their homes to investigate and some recording the incident on their phones and sharing the footage on messaging apps.
A man in his 30s was arrested at the scene and has since been released without charge after being questioning at Mullingar Garda station.
In a follow-up operation on Friday three men in their 30s and one man in his 20s was arrested. One of the men has since been released without charge while the others are due before the courts at a later date.
Gardaí in Mullingar have been dealing with a feud between rival factions for many years that has resulted in very significant streets disturbances, including one riot in another housing estate in the town just over 10 years ago. At that time 64 suspects were brought before the courts at the same time.
The court was told the two factions had agreed a truce and those convicted of feud related crimes were given suspended sentences.