Pipe bomb explosion sparks fears of traveller feud

April 1, 2013

A pipe bomb explosion which occurred in Bessbrook last Friday night has sparked fears among the community there that an on-going traveller feud may be erupting once again.  Local sources say an escalating quarrel between warring families in Bessbrook and travellers from Newry may have resulted in the pipe bomb attack.

Police confirmed they received a call from a man, shortly after midnight on Friday who reported a pipe bomb or similar device being thrown at a van in Ardaveen Park.  Army bomb experts quickly attended the scene to find  the explosion had caused minor damage to the van and no injuries were sustained. PSNI are investigating a motive for the attack but do not believe it is terrorist-related.

The latest incident is not the first time the traveller feud has made headlines.  Last July, Sinn Fein Councillor Pat McGinn expressed community fears about the feud, following a spate of violent incidents in the Bessbrook area.   At the time, Mr McGinn said there was “serious anxiety” amongst residents who feared becoming embroiled in the violence and he urged the Newry and Mourne Travellers Forum to meet and encourage mediation between the two traveller factions.

The pipe bomb attack has been met with condemnation by local political representatives, with SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley accusing the perpetrators of showing “scant regard for life.”

Bradley said he did not know what those involved hoped to achieve and said “had the circumstances been different, someone could have been killed or seriously injured by this device.”

“The use of violence is wrong regardless of the context and I would appeal to anyone in the area who saw or heard anything unusual to get in touch with the police” urged Mr Bradley.

Sinn Fein Councillor Turlough Murphy also expressed his concerns that the pipe bomb attack had once again sparked grave fears about the on-going traveller feud in the area.

“What has happened has caused anxiety throughout the community,” Murphy insisted.

“Those engaged in this violence have shown no regard for people or property. They must be apprehended and face the full rigours of the law. Any information on this incident must be reported to the PSNI.”