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Clan clash A feud to a kill - police act as tensions threaten violent clash between rival clans

Rivals claim bare-knuckle boxer and convicted criminal Thomas Joyce deliberately got himself arrested to avoid revenge attacks

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Thomas Joyce grinning as he is led away

Thomas Joyce grinning as he is led away

Thomas Joyce grinning as he is led away

Rivals claim bare-knuckle boxer and convicted criminal Thomas Joyce deliberately got himself arrested to avoid revenge attacks last week after threatening to 'dig up the dead'.

Heavily-armed police swooped in to arrest Joyce in dramatic scenes amid rising tensions between two feuding Irish clans.

Joyce is seen on the ground ­being handcuffed by officers carrying sub-machine guns before being lifted to his feet as he grins at the camera.

Video footage shared on social media showed the armed cops arresting the 44-year-old at a Manchester house last week.

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Thomas Joyce is handcuffed on the ground.

Thomas Joyce is handcuffed on the ground.

Thomas Joyce is handcuffed on the ground.



A day earlier, two rival groups had squared up to each other near the city centre before they were dispersed by police.

It comes after a series of videos and messages had been exchanged between the rivals, goading and taunting each ­other with claims of attacks. In one ­message, apparently filmed in the west of Ireland, a man ­surrounded by others wearing masks and ­balaclavas delivers a blunt message to Joyce.

"All the Galway Wards, all the Mountbellew Wards are together. If we have to go to Manchester we'll go this evening and see you, Tommy," he says.

"You are our victim. You have to be lucky all the time and we only have to be lucky once. Trust me pal, it's coming your way."

In another clip, with an even bigger crowd of masked men in a show of force, a man spells out a similar message and claims Joyce got himself arrested to get out of harm's way.

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"This is for you Tommy Joyce and your followers. Everyone in this place, Wards, McDonaghs, O'Loughlins, we all stand together against any f**k, we don't give a s***e about nobody.

"But you especially, mate, that got yourself taken this morning. You got ran yesterday by five young fellas - you were in a motor, you could have stopped it, could have turned around and attacked. But you didn't, you ran straight into a police station, got yourself taken this morning.

"The little yokes that were with you this morning, the best thing they can do is go back to their wives and children because they are getting it as well.

"You are not winning this one. You started it, but every Ward in Ireland and England are with us."

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The threat to Tommy Joyce.

The threat to Tommy Joyce.

The threat to Tommy Joyce.

Joyce had previously claimed he was going kick any Mountbellew Ward out of Manchester, even threatening to disinter graves.

"I swear on my mother's grave that every breed of a Mountbellew Ward is going out of Manchester and I'll dig your dead up and send them with you," he said.

The threats prompted a large police operation in Manchester, culminating in the armed operation on Wednesday and an increase in patrols.

Assistant Chief Constable Nicky Porter, of Greater Manchester ­Police, has appealed for calm and said: "We are aware of a number of incidents linked to ongoing tensions in communities across the Greater Manchester area."

He added: "As a result of these ongoing tensions, an arrest of a 44-year-old man was made yesterday, in Middleton, on suspicion of affray. He has since been charged.

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Joyce threatens the Mountbellew Wards.

Joyce threatens the Mountbellew Wards.

Joyce threatens the Mountbellew Wards.

"We are continuing to monitor this situation closely and have deployed a number of additional patrols in the areas affected.

"We want to take this opportunity to appeal for calm among these communities, as well as reiterate this behaviour will not be tolerated.

Thomas Joyce, who was later charged with affray, pleaded not guilty when he appeared at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court on Thursday 29 July.

He has been released on bail and will appear at Manchester Crown Court on September 2.

Joyce previously hit the headlines when he got involved in a fracas with the sons of Celebrity Big Brother winner Paddy Doherty.

The vicious row broke out at a Manchester courthouse where other members of the Joyce clan were appearing in relation to an attack on Celebrity Paddy in which an attempt had been made to bite off his ear.

Joyce was handed an eight-month suspended sentence and 150 hours community service.

Then in 2015 he was jailed for 21 months after admitting to stealing a stg£3,000 electricity generator,

It is not the first time members of the Mountbellew Wards have been involved in a feud across Ireland and the UK.

In 2001 Patrick 'Deuce' Ward died when attacked at a funeral in the Sligo town from where they get their name.

Members of the London-based Bumbee McDonagh clan were charged over their alleged part in the attack, but all were acquitted after a series of trials.

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