UP to 50 people were involved in a fight in the top square in Portlaoise at the end of last month, which spilled from the streets into one of the town’s newer housing estates.
The violence was discussed at this week’s Portlaoise Joint Policing Committee meeting by a number of councillors highlighted the the severity and scale of the incident.
which occured on Saturday night February 18.
The meeting heard that people who were in pubs in the area to be locked in, for their own safety. The incident carried on from Saturday night into Sunday where those involved moved the row into a housing estate.
Speaking at the Joint Policing Committe meeting, Cllr Alan Hand said that he believed the fight was the result of a family feud in the town.
“Residents in the estate were terrified, people were afraid to leave their houses”, he said.
Cllr Caroline Dwane told the meeting that residents in the estate in question were blocked into their houses for the day.
“Parents were told to turn back. Visitors to the town that were in pubs in the top square were not let out onto Main Street. For anyone to bring the law onto themselves is outrageous, it is absolutely disgraceful”.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald
“A very vicious and violent incident, it is not something we want to see on the streets. We have to leave it in the hands of the court”.
Garda Sergeant Tom Walton told the meeting that the complaints were taken on board and the incident would be fully investigated.
“All aspects of the case are being reviewed and if the evidence is there people will be brought to court, you may be sure about that. I would like to think that it was an isolated incident,” he said..
Speaking to the Leinster Express, Cllr Hand said that Garda resources are stretched.
“We have seen in other towns like Athlone and Mullingar where feuds have escalated, we don’t want that to happen here. The Gardaí said they have identified the ring leaders and it is a small contingent. The most worrying part is when people are prevented from leaving their homes.
“We are trying to sell the town for investment and for major festivals and sporting events, we can’t afford a bad reputation. This should be punished and stamped out,” he said.