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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Gerry O'Carroll: Feuding is out of control, and it won't stop anytime soon

Barney McGinley
Barney McGinley
Veronica Guerin
Jennifer Maguire

THERE'S a sad predictability to the events that led to the shooting of Barney McGinley (inset below) at a Traveller wedding in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh last week.

It's been reported that the murder was in retaliation for a savage assault on two men who were attacked with slash hooks and machetes last year.

In other words, a feud within the Travelling community - yet another violent dispute.

At this point it is only right to state that only a small minority of Travellers are engaged in such sickening lawlessness and violence.

But in recent years the thugs involved in this warfare, from the various Traveller families, have wreaked havoc and mayhem among the law-abiding and the decent members of the Traveller community.

Meanwhile, various governments have spent millions of euro on Traveller accommodation and halting sites.

Sadly, as a result of fears, intimidation and threats, many decent Traveller families have had to leave their homes, uproot their children and move away.

Hundreds of Travellers homes and halting site bays around the country are now abandoned and in ruins because of this constant feuding.

Some Travellers have even been forced to emigrate to the UK and elsewhere lest they become victims. Family occasions like weddings, funerals and christenings are all too often the venues where the warring clans clash and old scores are settled.

Despite the best efforts of the gardai and the deployment of mediators, these conflicts are still raging.

Earlier this month, on the main street in Portlaoise, feuding Travellers clashed in a pitched battle. Panic-stricken bystanders fled as the gangs engaged in hand-to-hand fighting.

Many were armed with deadly weapons. It took more than 30 gardai to calm the situation.

This type of scenario is not unique. It has been repeated around the country in towns like Athlone, Tuam, Tralee, Waterford and Galway - and the suburbs of Dublin.

Such feuding costs the State. Witness the extraordinary security operation mounted by the gardai in Athlone this week for the funeral of Barney McGinley.

The toxic macho culture and the glorification of violence amongst a minority of males is a major factor in perpetuating these feuds.

Sadly, I have little hope for optimism any time soon that this minority element will come to their senses.

We don't need a flyover to remember Veronica

IT was recently proposed that the newly-opened Newlands Cross flyover should be named after Veronica Guerin. 

The proposal was made at a South Dublin County Council area meeting last year and was due to go for public consultation.

If the proposal was accepted it would have been a fitting lasting tribute to a fearless and courageous woman who is fondly remembered, respected and admired by every decent law-abiding person in this State.

Alas, there now appears to be some doubt about the whole idea after Sinn Fein came out against it.

SF councillor Jonathan Graham claimed that the move would be inappropriate, stating that it would lead to a hierarchy of victims.

Hold on. Isn't Sinn Fein the same party that glorifies the exploits of IRA "freedom fighters" in Belfast and other areas of Northern Ireland.

block

Isn't this the same party who fought to retain Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry, named after an IRA man?

The Shinners rowed back on their position last week, denying that they had attempted to block the proposal. In the meantime, the Guerin family have made their feelings known and no longer want to associate themselves with the proposal. I tend to agree.

Veronica Guerin was murdered because of her work as a journalist, upholding the role of a free press. The Irish people do not need a commemorative flyover to remember her name or her legacy.

Jen one of many who face baby cost trap

TV presenter Jennifer Maguire was in the news this week, revealing that she plans to take only 10 weeks off work after the birth of her first baby.     

This may sound like a short amount of time - that's becaues it is. As an independent contractor, Jennifer doesn't get maternity benefits. When her 10 weeks is up the presenter, like other self-employed new mums, will have to go back to work to pay the mortgage and the bills. Luckily for Jennifer, her partner can take care of their baby.      

But many mums in her position have to leave their infant in a crèche, unless family can step in to help. The cost of such care is huge and amounts to almost a second mortgage. 

Hero

The whole country was elated at the news from New Zealand – Ireland had beaten the West Indies in the World Cup. This win is on a par with our first victory over Pakistan in 2007 and our win over England in 2011. This was no flash in the pan or fluke. It surely represents  the emergence of Ireland as a major cricketing power. Prepare to be bowled over again.

Zero

Farmer Rory O’Brien was jailed for 18 months this week for animal cruelty offences. The judge described the Cork man’s treatment of pigs, which led some animals to eat others, as “cruelty on an industrial scale”. It is difficult to imagine how anyone could treat defenceless animals in such a wanton fashion. O’Brien deserves to spend every day of his sentence behind bars.

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