Officers forced to flee brawl
THREE men involved in a massive drunken brawl involving two Traveller clans have been given community service orders and suspended sentences.
The three were part of a group of dozens from two halting sites who were fighting each other as part of an ongoing feud. At one point, the violence was so intense that gardai had to pull out of the area.
Gerard (28), Declan (20) and Michael McDonagh (22) of St Christopher's Halting Site, Cappagh Road, Finglas, pleaded guilty to two counts of violent disorder on May 18 and 19, 2008.
Judge Katherine Delahunt at Dublin Central Criminal court sentenced Michael McDonagh to 140 hours community service in lieu of nine months in jail. She imposed a 12-month suspended sentence and €1,000 fine on Gerard McDonagh and a six- month suspended sentence on Declan McDonagh, taking into account his young age.
Garda Eoin Conway said that he and a colleague were called to Cappagh Road where there had just been a fight between the residents of St Mary's Halting Site and St Christopher's Halting Site.
They arrived in the lull of the violence and many people were drunk and some had injuries. They left but were called back an hour later after fighting had broken out again. They told the residents to go to bed and left.
Minutes later they were called back again. This time there was a huge fight at the entrance to St Mary's Halting Site. People from St Mary's had driven a pick-up truck into several trailers, causing them damage.
Gardai saw several people armed with weapons, including Declan McDonagh, who was carrying an axe. Gardai arrested one man but were forced to retreat because of the violence.
There arrived again the next day and found a car on fire. There were groups of armed men from both sides throwing rocks at each other. Gardai deemed the situation too violent for them to intervene and closed off the road.
After 40 minutes when the fighting had calmed down, they moved in and made arrests.
Counsel for the three men said there was a lot of drink taken that night and all were trying to protect their family from perceived danger. They said all men had stayed out of trouble since the fight and entered early guilty pleas.