Armed gardaí required at Athlone court for Traveller feud hearing

Upwards of 20 gardaí, including an armed response unit, were present to maintain order as the latest seven protagonists in the ongoing Joyce-Ward feud went before the District Court on Wednesday (January 11 ).

They were there to face charges in relation to their participation in a mini-riot after an alleged ambush in a doctor’s surgery the day before closed a main road for the second time in this 18-month feud.

Court Services aided in the peace process by scheduling the four Joyces to appear in the morning session and the three Wards to appear after lunch.

Inspector Aidan Minnock told the court how members of the two families - who are related by marriage - met “allegedly by accident” in a doctor’s surgery in Golden Vale at the Crescent after mother-of-10 Lizzy Joyce (33 ), of Farnagh. Moate, brought a daughter for an appointment.

“Some came prepared with weapons, sticks, and batons,” he said. The use of pepper spray was alleged, but Inspector Minnock could not confirm this.

“They spilt out of the surgery and literally stopped traffic on the street,” he added.

Lizzy was accompanied in the dock by Anne Joyce (35 ) Clibborne Way, Moate; Ellen Joyce (20 ) of Church Lane, Moate; and Joe Joyce (21 ) also of Farnagh, Moate.

All four were remanded in custody, with consent to bail, to re-appear at Athlone District Court on February 8, pending the payment of a €500 independent surety; the provision of an address outside of Westmeath and Roscommon; and have to no contact with any members of the Ward family.

Sureties were paid by Sabrina, Ann, and Theresa Joyce.

“The bank account must’ve taken a huge dent this morning,” mused Judge Seamus Hughes to the women.

In the afternoon shift David Ward (28 ), Ashdale, Clonbrusk, Athlone; John Paul Ward (34 ), 16 Blackberry Lane, Athlone; and Patrick Ward (60 ), 22 Blackberrry Lane, Athlone were prosecuted by Superintendent Aidan Glacken who sought identically restrictive bail conditions to those given to the Joyces earlier.

“The alleged facts suggest yesterday’s behaviour didn’t happen by accident. This would’ve been the fourth incident in a month... It’s like a snowball,” he said.

Noting the number of gardaí, Judge Hughes agreed and remanded the Wards on similar conditions to re-appear next Wednesday, January 18.

The feud is believed to have escalated over a damaged headstone in Coosan cemetery in October 2010, and has seen at least 10 incidents brought to Garda attention in the last two years.

The most serious of these have included shots fired at a home in Blackberry Lane in September 2010; a mass brawl on the old Athlone-Moate Road at Creggan in November 2010 which resulted in the closure of both carriageways; an attack on the Joyce homestead in Farnagh in October 2010, for which six of the Ward clan are due to appear at Mullingar Circuit Court next month; and an assault on a woman on Northgate Street the day after that.


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