NewsCrime Desk

Long-standing row is going to lead to deaths, warns Traveller feud target

Anne Marie Ward with her 3-month old daughter beside gunshot pellets on house wall
Anne Marie Ward with her 3-month old daughter beside gunshot pellets on house wall

A TRAVELLER involved in a family feud in Tuam, which has led to a price being put on his head, has said it is only a matter of time before someone is killed fol­lowing a gun attack at his home last week.

A gunman armed with a shotgun opened fire on father-of-three Aaron Ward’s home in Kilmore last Monday week night.

"Myself and the wife were lying in bed and we heard a loud bang. We thought some­one smashed the window with a stone but then found out they'd shot through the window. Whoever did it meant to kill someone. The blinds were down and they shot in through the window and hit the couch. It's lucky we were upstairs."

The family have now fled from their home in terror following the attack.

Aaron's wife Anne Marie, looking in through the hole made by the gunshot pellets

Aaron, who was officially warned of a threat to his life a month ago, said the feud has been going on for more than three years and stemmed from a dispute over a personal relationship.

There have been dozens of incidents including violent attacks which left people badly injured and homes damaged but the feud escalated follow­ing three gun attacks in the past three months.

Aaron admits he is not squeaky clean as he has a num­ber of convictions and has been involved in incidents himself, but said the feud has to end.

"There have been an awful lot of incidents on both sides. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we're saints. Every time they did something, something did happen back. But there'd be no need for tit-for-tat if the guards came in and put a stop to it."

He said he fears that someone will be killed in the feud.

A €10,000 bounty was put on his head four weeks before the gun attack.

The Ward family home

"The gards arrived at my house telling me there was a threat on my life and they were taking it seriously. I'm the oldest brother and I was the last person to get involved in this argument.

"When I got assaulted I hit back straight away. Because of that they want to kill me. I have phone recordings of them threatening to kill me.

"Someone is going to get killed, especially with guns being involved. I'm just afraid it's going to be me or my wife or children. I can't stop bullets. I'm afraid of my life for my chil­dren and my wife. If I can't save them then what good am I?"

Aaron warned that if the guards don't stop the feud then "someone else will".

"There's only so much people can take. If we have to choose between us and them, and the guards can't do it, we're going to do it. That's being honest. I don't want to spend the rest of my life in jail because I have to do what the gards won't do but I have a wife and children to worry about."

He said men, women and children have been attacked as part of the feud. The first person attacked was a woman whose jaw was broken in an assault.

There have been a number of attempts at mediation and while they lasted for periods, Aaron said the feud continues to flare back up when people on the other side get drunk and decide to carry out an attack.

He said one of his brothers had his legs broken as part of the feud and another was near­ly killed in a violent assault. "His eye-socket was broke, his jawbone was broke, his nose was broke, his teeth were broke, his skull was fractured. He was bleeding everywhere and the guards were fully convinced he was dead."

He said the people involved are rarely jailed as witnesses are afraid to give statements.

"People won't give state­ments because they're getting beat up when they do make statements."

He said other people who even speak to his family have been targeted.

"I thought this was all over with after the peace deal. But these guys, when they get a few drinks, they go and do what they want. The guards need to put a stop to this."

He said the violence must end, even if that means locking up people on both sides.