Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Traveller gangs’ ‘call-out’ videos spark concern

 Local communities in Forkhill and Bessbrook have spoken to The Examiner about their fears after videos appeared online which appear to show feuding Traveller gangs issuing “call-out” videos.

One such video, which appears on YouTube and has been view over 16,000 times, shows a group of masked men brandishing machete-like weapons.  

In the video, an unknown man says: “We are here to cut you up”.

Another man says: “We will leave you with no limbs.”

The video is alleged to have been filmed in the back garden of a home in Park Urney in Forkhill.

Park Urney is a social housing development and when the Housing Executive were asked for a response to the incident, they said that they could not comment on such matters because many of the men involved were masked and therefore it is impossible to discern their identity and whether or not they were tenants of the property.

The Housing Executive also said that it was unclear whether the video was filmed in Park Urney.  However, there are striking similarities between the Park Urney housing estate and the estate shown in the YouTube clip.

The Housing Executive declined to comment further, saying that it was a policing matter and that they could not comment on individuals due to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) concerns. 

However, Radius Housing did issue a statement, saying: “We are aware of a recent incident in Park Urney. This is a police matter and we are assisting the PSNI with their investigations.”

The Examiner spoke to Sinn Feín councillor Mickey Larkin at the recent opening of the new play park in the green space in Forkhill, which is only a few feet from the garden in which the ‘call-out’ video is alleged to have been filmed.

Larkin said that it was a matter for the Housing Executive and the police, however, he revealed that the police have already been proactive in dealing with this issue. 

He said: “We have been talking to the police and they have made a number of arrests.  I know they are also looking for a number of others in relation to it and other incidents in the area. 

“I condemn it absolutely and call for all the agencies, including the PSNI and the Housing Executive and the Council, to work together to ensure that this never happens again.  

“It is unacceptable that that sort of behaviour takes place in a residential area.  It is unacceptable to take place anywhere, but to act in that fashion with weapons and actually threatening the safety of the whole community and its residents is disgraceful,” he added.

Another video circulated online which appeared to show a skirmish outside one of the homes in Park Urney in Forkhill.  Several men, holding objects which appear to be the same as the machete-like weapons in the first video, surround a car as it tries to leave the Park Urney estate.

 A female voice, which is believed to be the same voice as the female heard in the freely available YouTube clip, can be heard saying: “Bring it on. The boys are on their way here.”

A local resident, who doesn’t wish to be named, said of the alleged incident: “There were children out playing in the street, and they had to literally go running for safety.  You can only imagine how scary it was for them and how frightening it is for us as parents.” 

And a further video which has been uploaded to YouTube, believed to have been filmed in Bessbrook in response to the alleged Park Urney video, shows several masked men issuing threats.

 One of the men said: “You have a couple of weapons; we have twice as many weapons and twice as many men waiting for you… You know where we are, we’re here in Bessbrook, come and get it.”

 Clanmil Housing Association, who provides social housing throughout Northern Ireland, issued a statement to The Examiner saying: “We are continuing to work with our tenants, local elected representatives and the PSNI to ensure that Dobson’s Way is a good place to live.

 “We have increased our presence at the development and staff on the ground are providing a responsive service to our tenants. 

 “We have robust procedures in place for dealing with tenancy issues and we have been taking, and will continue to take, action where there is evidence of breach of tenancy by a Clanmil tenant, or parties connected with them.  

 “A number of people have left the development as a result of our work to ensure tenancy obligations are being met.”

 Clanmil appealed for people to contact the PSNI or make an anonymous report to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if they have any further information.

The PSNI also released a brief statement to The Examiner: “Police are aware of a video on a social media platform. Enquiries are on-going.”