TD calls for “army” to assist gardai police Limerick town following…

first_imgLinkedin TAGSKeeping Limerick PostedlimerickLimerick Post Limerick Ladies National Football League opener to be streamed live Email Facebook Twitter A Limerick TD has called for the Defence Forces to assist gardai police the town of Rathkeale over forthcoming Christmas and New Year periods, following a number of alleged incidents in the town over the recent festive holidays.The call, made by Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue, came as gardai began an investigation into a bare knuckle fight which occurred in the town last Monday.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up Videos showing a vicious fight in the town centre were shared online this Wednesday.The video shows a large group of men and women jeering and shouting at one another, as two bare-chested males fight one another. An older looking man, who is fully dressed, appears to be covered in blood around his face and neck.Gardai said last week that they had enough resources to deal with a surge of between 1,000 – 2,000 visitors to the town over Christmas.However, Deputy O’Donoghue said: “The gardai in the district go above and beyond what they have to do, but they don’t have the resources for Rathkeale (at Christmas) because they are covering the whole district. The problem is an influx of people coming into Rathkeale destroys everything in the town, and people stop coming in because of the traffic congestion, anti social behaviour, caused by a minority of people that come to Rathkeale.”“They are destroying a perfectly good town and a vibrant business town by people who come in every Christmas.”“The Council every year spends two or three meetings discussing what policing issues are we going to have in place in Rathkeale come Christmas – that’s not right, we shouldn’t have to have a situation where we have to have meetings with the gardai to discuss one town, because of the influx of people coming in from the UK and other places who are destroying a beautiful town.”“We don’t need extra garda resources for Kilmallock or Adare – it’s only for one town and this has to stop.”“Bring in the army to help, yes the army aren’t able to make arrests, but they can be there as a presence. We need to make sure that when that minority come home for Christmas that they behave.”“The army could help with garda checkpoints, they could be on the street to see this for themselves, gather information for the gardai, find out where the anti-social behaviour is… we have fights on the streets in the middle of the day.”“We need to make Rathkeale – at Christmas time – safe again for everyone, to encourage people in and support the businesses all year round.”Deputy O’Donoghue said he was not referring to local families, “that have been there for generations, that have integrated in the community, and have supported businesses in the community”.“I am talking about a minority of people that come and cause it — we don’t have this trouble all year round, we only have it at Christmas time”.“These people are not from Rathkeale, or Ireland, and they come in and try to use Rathkeale as an anti-social party town, which it is not, and we need to stop that.”Rathkeale Community Council said that Rathkeale had one of the lowest crime rates in the Newcastle West Garda District and it has been unfairly targeted.However, a informed local source, who said they did not wish to be identified for fear of reprisals, said those involved in Monday’s melee in the town “behaved like animals”.“They boxed the head off of one another, held up traffic, people were frightened out of their lives, people were inside in cars and they couldn’t get up and down the Main Street, it was like a boxing ring.”“Rathkeale was a jungle again this Christmas, and anyone who says different is sticking their heads in the sand,” they added.A garda spokesman said: “Gardaí responded to reports of an assault in Rathkeale town square on Monday, January 4th 2021. One male, aged in his forties, was conveyed to Limerick Hospital for treatment for his injuries and has since been released and returned home.”They added: “One male has been arrested and charged in relation and is due to appear before Newcastle West District Court on the 8th of January 2021.”A number of house parties and flouting of mask wearing and social distancing alleged to have taken place in Rathkeale over Christmas are also under investigation after videos were shared online.On December 28th, Gardai confirmed they were preparing files for the DPP “following incidents encountered by Gardai in Rathkeale across the Christmas period involving gatherings by large groups at private establishments and on public thoroughfares in the town.”When asked about garda resources in Rathkeale, a spokesman replied: “A local Garda Operation commenced on Tuesday, 24th November, 2020, and remains in place in the Rathkeale area. Sufficient Garda resources are currently in place for the area.”“Any breaches of COVID-19 restrictions will be investigated by Gardaí and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions in each case.”When asked about crime in the town over the festive period, another garda spokesman replied: “The number of burglaries, assaults, and public order incidents in recent weeks are down when compared to other years”. 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