Garda increase patrols following threat to young family

GARDAI have increased security measures in the village of Mooncoin following a serious threat to the safety of a young family who were targeted in an arson attack recently.

GARDAI have increased security measures in the village of Mooncoin following a serious threat to the safety of a young family who were targeted in an arson attack recently.

An appeal is also being made for two men who were seen acting suspiciously close to the scene of a suspected arson attack to come forward. Investigating officers have issued an appeal for the two men who were seen at approximately 3am on the Northbound carriageway of the M9 motorway watching the burning house. “The two men were standing on the bridge looking down at the burning house. The first witnesses on the scene saw them and reported them and we are appealing for them to come forward. We want them to contact us immediately to help us with our enquiries. At the moment we are treating them as witnesses and want them to come forward so we can rule them out of our investigation,” a garda spokesman said.

Increased patrols have been stepped up in the village following a threat received by the family on April 4. “We are monitoring the situation and are patrolling the area 24 hours a day,” a garda spokesman said.

The family-of-six, who are members of the travelling community were due to move into the house at Dunkitt, Kilmacow when it was burned on March 31. The property was refurbished at a cost of €110,000 by Kilkenny County Council. Michael McDonagh and his five children were due to move from their rented accommodation in Mooncoin into the recently-refurbished bungalow at Dunkitt, Kilmacow when the house was burned down destroying their personal possessions and photographs. Gardai are investigating the arson attack and have confirmed that the family have received a serious threat to their safety since the attack.

The house, which was substantially damaged was declared structurally sound by Kilkenny County Council last week and gardai carried out a full technical examination last Thursday. “We are awaiting the results of the examaination and hopefully this will determine whether an accelerant was used,” a garda spokesman said.

Further threats

A threatening letter was sent to Michael McDonagh at his rented accommodation in Mooncoin following the fire claiming that they weren’t wanted in the village. The McDonagh family who were due to move from the rented accommodation in Mooncoin into the recently-refurbished bungalow at Dunkitt, Kilmacow when the house was burned down have since returned to Mooncoin. “We are treating the threat very seriously and consider it intimidation,” a garda spokesman said. It is believed that the letter contained a threat that if the family don’t move from their present address in Mooncoin they will be targeted and their home “burned to ashes.” Gardai are now patrolling the area round the clock and there is ‘a visible garda presence’.

Green Party Councillor Malcolm Noonan has criticised the lack of public condemnation from public representatives on the attack. “I have spoken to the chairman of Kilkenny County Council, Paul Cuddihy. Unless we unequivocally condemn it we are leaving space for it to happen again. We have TD’s in the locality and they should be more vocal. I want to reiterate my call for people within the community who might be aware of who committed the act to furnish information with the gardai.

“This is a dangerous precedent to set and it is tragic that it was set in Kilkenny. There is silence from a lot of quarters and people in civic leadership roles should have been more vocal,” said Cllr Noonan.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the gardai in Mooncoin on 051 895 122.