There is an annual cycle of criminality and violence in the town of Rathkeale that Government is “absolutely determined” to break, according to the acting Minister for Justice.
Simon Harris was speaking after a visit to the Limerick town yesterday evening.
Armed Gardaí were patrolling the town yesterday after a violent incident in which around six SUVs were rammed and weapons were brandished on Monday.
Footage from the scene shows several damaged cars with debris scattered across a street leading into the town.
A machete can be seen in one video with another showing people in balaclavas running away.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Minister Harris said the incident is being taken “extremely seriously” by all arms of the law.
“There is no part of this country that is above the law nor is there anybody in this country who is above the law,” he said.
He said it is no secret that the town experiences difficulties every year as large numbers of people arrive home for Christmas but insisted, “the level of wanton criminality seen in Rathkeale in recent days is not comparable to what has been seen in previous years”.
The acting minister said there are now three priorities for authorities in the area – bringing those involved to justice, protecting the community over Christmas and breaking the cycle of criminality in the area.
He said the frustration in the community was clear to see last night.
I travelled to Rathkeale today to meet with local Gardai & community leaders.
Gardai have been assured of my full support in their efforts. The investigation is active.
I would encourage anyone with information to come forward to assist. pic.twitter.com/KgLpARy1C3
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) December 20, 2022
“They are just so sick and tired of what they now see as an annual occurrence of criminality, anti-social behaviour, assaults and the like in their town,” he said. “That is not acceptable in any part of this country.
“It is not acceptable in Rathkeale and it won’t be tolerated by the Gardaí or the Government. We will support them in every way.”
Minister Harris noted that the violence on Monday is not reflective of the “fine, proud people” living in Rathkeale.
“I talked to mothers here in Rathkeale yesterday who don’t want to be explaining this to their children every Christmas,” he said.
“Where this horrific, despicable incident happened in recent days was right beside playing pitches.
“I think people need to get this. Thankfully we didn’t see the loss of life in Rathkeale such was the level of criminality in the recent days and that is the way in which we will approach the situation.”