CITY COUNCILLORS are up in arms following one of the strangest and most bizarre incidents involving Travellers and crime for many years.
It has left law abiding citizens wondering what’s next while people in the city suburb where the incident occurred fear for their lives but are afraid to come forward in case of reprisals.
The shock and fear centres around a city resident who performed his civic duty in stopping two members of the Travelling community from robbing fuel from his home in the early morning has been cautioned by gardai. The man, of impeccable character was forced to chase the pair of balaclava-wearing Travellers after they left his house with a five litre drum of home heating oil. After catching one of them, he held him down until the gardai came after he made a 999 call on his mobile phone. There was an altercation as he tried to escape and the homeowner gave as good as he got.
The Traveller was subsequently brought to St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny where he received eight stitches. He made an official complaint about the householder to the gardai who has never been in any kind of trouble in his life. He was shocked when officers gave him an official caution as to his behaviour despite the fact that many people feel he was completely justified in doing what he did.
He is a strong defender of Travellers Rights and has done Trojan work in this area speaking out in their defence in his role as a voluntary community worker who is held in the highest regard by all who know him.
The traveller involved has a number of criminal convictions and is currently on a suspended sentence. If he is returned to court for breaking the conditions of his bond to be of good behaviour, he will be sent to jail. But since the incident happened over four weeks ago, there is no sign of that happening.
On Friday, March 8 at 6.20am exactly, one of the men went to the oil tank at the side of a house while the other waited outside on the sulky, also wearing a balaclava. The homeowner looked out his side window and saw the man in a balaclava siphoning oil from his oil tank. He dressed quickly and came out the back door and as he did, the man jumped on to a sulky driven by a second man, also in a balaclava, parked on the road outside the house.
They sped off giving the poor pony a number of belts of a stick as they pulled away. The householder, livid that his home had once again been targeted by criminals, got into his vehicle and gave chase.
As he drove down the road, the Traveller with the oil got off and jumped over a wall. He followed the other man and after a chase cornered him. He tried to get away but the homeowner restrained him.
Cllr Martin Brett has come to the defence of the homeowner and while he made it clear that he was not anti-Traveller, he said it was farcical to think that a man who was defending his own home and property, doing his civic duty by apprehending the crime doer was now in the dock.
“What we are forgetting here is the stress this is causing this man and his family. They are in fear these men will come back, seek revenge and burn them out. He also has to worry about a possible criminal case and a possible civil action by the Traveller as a result of the injuries he received in the altercation,” he said.
“Something is wrong in our society when this is allowed to happen and I am appealing to people to report any crime they see no matter how small. We need to stamp this out now before someone is badly injured or worse,” he added.
He also wants an immediate investigation by the local authorities into the individual involved who is housed by the council.