THE HSE and the Rathkeale clergy have been accused of creating a "holiday Mecca" for Travellers from the UK each Christmas, following a chaotic festive period which saw bombing and shooting incidents take place in the town.
Calls have now been made for a tough clampdown to prevent the annual influx of Travellers into Rathkeale in time for next Christmas, which creates significant anti-social behaviour issues for both the local Traveller and settled communities.
Cllr Stephen Keary said that the events of the past two weeks have shown that the situation has become "totally intolerable", and accused the HSE and local church of "over accommodating" Travellers from the UK: "These people come to Rathkeale, but they have no family ties here at all. It's a holiday Mecca where they come park in illegal halting sites and get tanked up to the ears with drink. No policing system can handle this. A total sea change in legislation is needed."
Cllr Keary's comments follow one of the most dramatic Christmases in Rathkeale in recent memory. The Army bomb disposal unit were called into the town on Tuesday morning after a pipe bomb was detonated at a house in the Ballywilliam Estate shortly before 4.30am.
A second device was made safe shortly before 9am. A woman in her fifties, who was in the house, was not injured. Minor damage was caused to the front door.
Meanwhile, gardai are continuing to investigate a shooting incident in the Roches Road area early on Christmas morning. A number of shots were fired at a caravan at 5.50am, causing damage to its roof. There were no injuries in an incident which gardai believe is linked to a debt between two traveller families.
Gardai denied earlier reports that it was linked to a city-based extortion racket.
FULL STORY IN OUR WEEKEND EDITION