Wild scenes of violence disrupted a Confirmation service in St Mary’s Church, Ballinrobe, this afternoon (Tuesday). Around a dozen men entered the church carrying slash hooks and chased down a man who was attending the Mass. Over 90 local children were in the church at the time of the terrifying incident, which took place shortly after 1.30pm, just after Communion.
Onlookers told The Mayo News that the man fled into the porch of the church where a wooden table was broken over his back by one of the attackers. However, armed Gardaí were on the scene within minutes and eventually managed to defuse the situation.
No serious injuries have been reported. The incident is believed to be part of an ongoing feud between two families in the area.
Over 600 people were attending the church for the service, as children from the local national schools of St Joseph’s, Cloonliffen, Roxboro and Cregduff, along with a number of secondary school children, were making their Confirmation. Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary, was the chief celebrant of the Mass.
Gardaí arrested one man at the scene, and he is due to appear before a special sitting of a local district court this week.
A Garda spokesperson said that the matter was still under investigation. He admitted that the situation was ‘volatile’ for a time, but reported that a number of gardaí, who were on patrol locally, brought the situation under control.
Many of the church-goers who witnessed the attack were shocked by the scenes.
“To see this happen before your eyes is unbelievable,” one witness told The Mayo News. “The lack of respect shown was incredible … To think that such an attack would take place on the day of a Confirmation, a special day for so many children and their families. These people had no regard for human safety … A lot of people are very upset and shocked about what happened. I never saw the likes of this in Ballinrobe,” he said.
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