An ongoing feud between local families exploded into violence in the foyer of Portlaoise Courthouse and spilled out onto Main Street yesterday (Thursday, May 11), with ten gardaí required on the scene and four people arrested after punches were thrown.
The district court sitting had not yet started when the violence erupted in the court building just after 10.45 yesterday morning, with virtually all the gardaí present in the courtroom having to race out to deal with the situation.
Up to nine people were involved in the melee. Three males, two of whom are juveniles, and one woman were arrested, all of them from the Portlaoise area.
At least three of the people arrested had business listed that day before the criminal sittings of the court.
In the afternoon session of the court, two of the people arrested were brought in and charged.
David Delaney (20) and Kathleen Ward (42), both residing in Clonad, Portlaoise, were charged with threatening or abusive behaviour in public.
Detective Garda Padraic Ryan gave evidence that there was a very serious melee in the courthouse and on the Main Street, with a number of punches thrown and traffic stopped.
Ten gardaí were required to assist and pepper spray had to be used in the arrest of four people.
Det Ryan said there may be further charges to come. He told the court that there is an ongoing feud in the locality which has the potential to blow up.
Det Ryan requested bail conditions on Delaney, that he reside at his address in Clonad, which is a caravan on the roadside; he stay out of Portlaoise town; and he observe a curfew from 8pm to 8am.
Judge Catherine Staines granted bail with conditions, amending the condition to stay out of Portlaoise to allow the accused to attend for social welfare.
Bail was also granted to Kathleen Ward, with conditions she stay out of Knockmay in Portlaoise, and she observe a curfew of 10pm to 7am.
The matter was put back to July 6 for DPP directions.
Files to the DPP are being prepared on the two juveniles involved in the case.