Two brothers and their cousin have appeared in court charged in connection with a Garda investigation into two assaults in Ballinrobe during which one man received serious head injuries and is being treated in Beaumont Hospital and two others were stabbed in the neck.
The men, two from Ballinrobe and one from Sligo, made a brief appearance at Letterkenny District Court yesterday (Thursday ) after being charged at Claremorris Garda station in the early hours of the morning.
Eddie Sweeney (20 ), New Street, Ballinrobe, and his cousin Paddy Sweeney (21 ) with an address at Bog Road, Ballinrobe, are both charged with assault causing harm to 27-year-old John Francis Reddington at New Street Ballinrobe on August 16.
Jimmy Sweeney (25 ) of Glendallan, Co Sligo, a brother of Eddie Sweeney, was charged with assault causing harm to John O'Malley on the same date at Neale Road, Ballinrobe.
Judge Conal Gibbons heard all three made no reply when charged.
They were granted legal aid and remanded in custody to Harristown District Court today (Friday ) where the issue of bail is to be addressed.
A fourth man in his twenties has been released without charge and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The men were detained at Castlebar and Claremorris Garda stations following their arrests on Wednesday. Two of the men were arrested after searches on Wednesday morning in counties Mayo, Galway, and Sligo by a special Garda divisional unit which was set up to investigate the weekend violence. The man who has been released without charge was also arrested at this time. A fourth arrest was made in Galway city on Wednesday afternoon.
In light of the increase in violent crime in Mayo over the last fortnight Fine Gael deputy John O’Mahony has called for an increase in Garda resources. One man has already died and others were seriously injured (including a garda ) following the incidents in Westport, Kiltimagh, Ballinrobe, and Charlestown.
“It’s been a shocking week for all concerned and my sympathies go out to all the victims of the crimes and their families. It must be a terribly traumatic time for all of them. I know the gardaí are working around the clock to bring those who carried out these crimes to justice and I commend them for their efforts.
“However, they are stretched to the limit and it is impossible for them to provide the type of service the public require and the gardaí want to provide,” said Dep O’Mahony.
Need for Garda presence highlighted
These incidents once again underline the need for a town the size of Ballinrobe to be served with a 24 hour Garda presence, according to the TD. “No one could say that the awful crimes of last weekend would not have happened had there been such a presence in the town, but it goes without saying that all law abiding residents would feel much more secure,” he said.
At approximately 3.30am on Sunday morning two men, aged 27 and 32 years, were assaulted by a number of men while walking down New Street, Ballinrobe. Both were removed to Mayo General Hospital for treatment of their injuries. The 32-year-old man was released from hospital a short time later; however the 27-year-old man has since been transferred to Beaumount Hospital, Dublin, with serious head injuries. He is said to be in a stable condition.
A short time later a second incident occurred at The Neale Road, Ballinrobe. Two men, aged 20 and 31 years, were assaulted by a number of men. Both received stab wounds to their necks. They were both taken to Mayo General Hospital for treatment. They both remain in hospital.
A special Garda divisional unit has been set up to investigate the weekend violence. Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has described the recent spate of knife attacks as very worrying.
Another Fine Gael TD, Michael Ring, has also spoken out about the attack on Garda Daryl Mullen in Westport after which the garda had to undergo emergency surgery at Mayo General Hospital for his injuries. Dep Ring called the stabbing “an attack on civilised society”.
The Westport-based TD said he was shocked and appalled at the incident which left Garda Mullen in a critical condition and he added that he was especially shocked that a 16-year-old youth had been charged with the stabbing of Garda Mullen.
“This is the second time in a matter of months that teenagers have been charged with attacks on Garda officers. Last April we had an incident in Donegal where Garda Robert McCallion from Swinford suffered fatal injuries when he was struck down by a stolen car. Two teenagers were charged with that offence and now we have a young man — barely out of childhood — charged with the stabbing of Garda Mullen.
“Obviously I’m very conscious that these matters are before the courts and natural justice must prevail, but what I will say is that it is deeply disturbing that teenagers are coming before the courts charged with such serious offences.”
Dep Ring said the people of Westport have a great respect for An Garda Síochána and the town has a long and proud association with the force going all the way back to his own granduncle, Joe Ring, who was a founding member of the force.
He said the people of Westport wanted the gardaí to know that this incident is not reflective of the town or people of Westport who always have the utmost respect for An Garda Síochána.