St Nicholas Church
Fr Neil O’Donoghue
A local priest has hit out at more than a dozen individuals who fought each other with slash hooks at a funeral in Dundalk on Monday.
Fifteen people, reported to be from the Travelling community, were involved in the altercation at a packed St Nicholas’ Church in Dundalk on Monday as 26-year-old Martin Ward, from Castleross, was laid to rest.
Speaking about the incident to the Irish Mirror, Fr Neil O’Donoghue, said it was a miracle that no one was injured by the thugs, who were also armed with knives and hammers.
He said: “The church was packed, it was overflowing. And then it all started. It’s a miracle nobody was injured.
“It was like a stampede, people were running everywhere. I couldn’t see much myself as I was on the altar at the time.
“It was frightening for me but it was frightening for everyone else there of course. It’s a tragedy that this would happen in the house of God. It’s beyond any sense of decency. It’s a disgrace.”
It is understand a dispute broke out between two families at the entrance to the church after the coffin arrived. Before gardaí arrived on the scene, the attackers scattered and one car they escaped in was found burnt out in Belfast later that day.
The Mirror reported that many mourners had travelled from the UK to attend the Mass and it is believed they had come back to reignite old rivalries.
There was damage done to the holy water fonts of the church and the hearse of Quinn’s undertakers during the incident.
Mr Ward died suddenly last Thursday and is survived by his wife Kathy, son Baby Martin, daughters Maggie and Lexie, parents Martin and Margaret, sister Shirley, brothers Gareth, Seán and Son, brother-in-law Stephen, sisters-in-law Marian and Leona, nephews Patrick, Michael, Ryan and Baby Steo.
Fr O’Donoghue expressed his disappointment that his family had to witness such a thing at their beloved’s funeral.
“His three young children, one of them an infant, were there and they had to witness this at their own father’s funeral. It’s shocking,” he said.
Gardai have yet to make any arrests in the case but said they are following a definite line of inquiry.
A spokesman added: “It is believed the incident started at the entrance of
the church at 12.50pm. It then broke out onto Bridge Street.
“A group of males were involved in a public order dispute and nobody was arrested.
“There have been no arrests and nobody was injured at the scene.”
Source: Travellers fight inside a church with slash hooks at funeral (Irish Mirror)