Travellers asked not to return home for Christmas
Back home: Hundreds of transient Travellers return to Rathkeale every Christmas
December 04 2020 02:30 AM
Pavee Point is backing calls by a Government minister to hundreds of transient Irish Travellers not to return to their County Limerick home town for Christmas.
Minister for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins said Rathkeale was in danger of becoming a high risk Covid-19 zone over the holiday when the town’s population traditionally increases from 1,500 to more than 3,000 due to the homecoming of Travellers.
He has appealed to Travellers who normally return for Christmas, to put off their plans this year.
Many will be coming from areas in the UK and mainland Europe, which are in lockdown due to surges in the virus.
Mr Collins, who is a local TD, said: “Rathkeale will be at risk, big time, and that is the reality of it with the numbers who come into the town for the holiday period. Normally, a dedicated policing and public health plan is put in place by the HSE. But this year, due to the Covid-19 crisis, huge extra resources will have to be deployed to prevent a spike in Rathkeale.
“I am taking the whole situation up with the HSE to ensure that all possible precautions are taken to ensure that those living in Rathkeale and those visiting can have a safe, healthy Christmas and New Year.”
Martin Collins, of Pavee Point, backed the minister’s appeal. “I would say to all the Travellers who normally come back home to Rathkeale to stay put; that is the safest thing to do,” he said. “They should restrict their movements. But realistically, there will be a considerable number of Travellers coming back to Rathkeale and the HSE will have to ramp up their plan for the town which is put in place for Christmas.”
Michael Aherne, of the HSE community health care department in Limerick, said they were currently recruiting for a doctor and nurse to manage a temporary clinic they open each Christmas in Rathkeale to support local GP services.
Settled Traveller Terry O’Brien (62), who has lived in Rathkeale for more than 30 years, said a number of his relatives were expected for Christmas.
“I and all the other Travellers in Rathkeale are taking the precautions we are asked to. No Traveller wants to get this or give it to anybody else. But there are a lot of people coming back.”
Traveller crime gang at centre of ‘vintage and classic cars scam’ in Rathkeale, Limerick
Gardai say the scam involved €360,000 worth of vintage cars and targeted mainly elderly people
A notorious traveller crime gang is at the centre of a suspected scam involving expensive vintage and classic cars.
Gardai from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation backed up by local units struck properties in Rathkeale, Co Limerick.
Gardai say the scam involved €360,000 worth of vintage cars and targeted mainly elderly people.
The guards moved in on the gang, in the Limerick town and arrested four men suspected of involvement in the operation.
They also seized 20 vehicles in the swoop.
The scam reportedly consists of fraud around the purchase and sale of vintage and classic cars aged in excess of 50 years.
Detective Superintendent Michael Mullen of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation said the scam had caused significant hurt to elderly people.
He said: “The operation in Rathkeale today is as a result of a lengthy investigation carried out by the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“From enquiries to date, I believe there may be more victims across the country who have been deceived during a transaction involving a vintage or classic car.
“I would like to appeal today, particularly to the elderly community to contact your local Garda Station if you believe that you have been deceived in the purchase/sale of a vintage or classic car in circumstances where either money has not been received or money received far less than that of the value of the car.”
Recently in October a garda was suspended and a garda station raided as detectives probed a suspected insurance scam.
It is believed the garda, stationed in Rathkeale, is suspected of involvement with a scam run by criminals living in the Co Limerick area.
Gardai also searched a halting site nearby as well as 16 houses seizing phones, documents and two cars.
Allegedly that operation focused on the issuing of insurance certificates and productions by gardai.
The county Limerick town has been home to the Rathkeale Rovers international crime gang for a number of years.
In one of their most spectacular raids they were suspected of involvement in the theft of a rhino horn from a French zoo.
The gang has been involved in crime across the globe and gang members, who are all inter-related, own lavish properties across England, Spain, France, America and Ireland — have been on the prowl in South America since Christmas.
The Rovers, who are all members of the Traveller Community, operate in Honduras, San Salvador and Colombia, raking in €15,000 per week.
They are also linked to the Triads from China and also are suspected of involvement in crimes Dominican Republic and Canada in 2016.
Patrick ‘Crying Dan’ Sheridan returned in 2017 to Limerick after he was released from prison in the US.
He was jailed in Waco, Texas, for a year after violating local wildlife trafficking laws by buying four black rhino horns from a taxidermist before selling them in New York.
Sheridan’s brother-in-law Michael Slattery, 25, has also served a 14-month jail term for his role in the scam.