Heavily-armed gardai were involved in an arrest operation yesterday morning which led to five men being charged with alleged offences linked to a feud in Longford.
Our exclusive photos show members of the Garda Armed Support Unit involved in the arrest of three suspects at two locations at the Old Dublin Road in Longford shortly before 7am yesterday.
The trio, who included one juvenile male, were taken to Longford Garda Station, along with another man and another juvenile male who were arrested at a different location in the midlands town.
They were charged by gardai with a violent disorder offence related to an alleged incident that happened on June 2, last year.
It is alleged that a man was stabbed in the back and punched during the incident.
All five then appeared before Judge Seamus Hughes at Longford District Court, where all were sent forward on the charges to the Circuit Court, which has wider sentencing powers than the district court.
Two 17-year-olds, who cannot be named because they are juveniles, were each granted bail on the charges with strict conditions, including providing an independent cash surety of €3,000 each.
The other three men, who are all members of the same extended family, were remanded in custody to Castlerea Prison and are due to appear before Longford District Court next Tuesday.
Each of the five defendants faced a single charge of violent disorder during an alleged incident at the Texaco Service Station on the Dublin Road in Longford which occurred at 5pm on June 2 last.
Willie Hannafin (32), of Knockahaw, Dublin Road, Longford, Thomas Hannafin (40), of Dublin Road, Longford, and Denis Hannafin (39), of Curry, Athlone Road, Longford, were all remanded in custody.
No bail application was heard for the three men.
Evidence of arrest, charge and caution was given by Garda John Hanley of Longford Station, who outlined the State's case against the five males who each made no reply after being charged with a single count of violent disorder.
Gda Hanley alleged that the injured party in the case - Ronan Stokes - was assaulted by three men and that one of them could be seen on CCTV "slitting his back".
He alleged that two of the men punched the injured party, while a fourth accused swung an axe which did not make contact with Mr Stokes. He said that a fifth man drove the others to and from the scene at the Texaco Service Station.
Answering questions from Judge Hughes, the garda explained that the incident started when one of the charged men emerged from a jeep when the alleged victim was in the shop.
Two other men made their way to the front of the shop where one "punched him and the other pulled a blade up the back of the injured party".
He agreed that the victim was slashed on his back through his clothing, which resulted in him requiring 12 stitches.
Gda Hanley said that Mr Stokes escaped the scene, and an axe, that was allegedly swung at him but did not make contact in the incident, has not been recovered.
The victim made a complaint and gardai have obtained "very good CCTV", he said.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Hughes refused District Court jurisdiction in relation to all five defendants.
"This appears to be a trickle of a feud - these are very serious matters. It could even have been an incident of attempted murder," Judge Hughes said, before remanding the three men in custody until next Tuesday.
The two juvenile defendants were granted bail on strict conditions after the court heard from alleged victim Mr Stokes, who gave evidence that he had been intimidated by the teenagers after the incident last June but not in this calendar year.
The judge also asked Mr Stokes how the feud began and he told the court that it related to an incident where a member of his family had to move out of a house.
A solicitor for the five men told Judge Hughes that a man not before the court had rented a house to a member of the Stokes family but this tenancy came to an end, which led to a meeting.