GARDA reinforcements had to rush to the centre of Portlaoise after a violent brawl erupted on Main Street at the weekend.
About 20 people were involved in the vicious fracas in the early hours of Sunday morning, as members of two feuding families traded kicks and punches outside the courthouse building.
Two men were arrested and criminal charges are expected to be brought against numerous others as a result of the drunken dispute, which took over a large section of the street.
The row broke at about 1.20am while the town was busy with people coming and going from pubs and nightclubs. A number of mobile garda units from Portlaoise sped to the scene, where they began to separate the brawling families. The scale of the feud was such that garda reinforcements had to be called in from Abbeyleix and members of the garda detective branch also gave support.
According to gardaí, two men were arrested at the scene and were placed in cells at the town’s garda station. One has already been charged with public order offences and is expected to appear in court in coming weeks.
A local garda spokesman added that more charges will follow for “numerous persons” in connection with the riot. The spokesman commented: “Saturday nights are busy enough and garda resources are stretched enough without this thuggery.”
A garda investigation into the brawl is underway and a range of public order charges are expected to be brought against the main culprits. Gardaí will also consider the possibility of bringing the more serious charge of violent disorder against some of those involved, which can carry a jail sentence of up to ten years.