Two men and three women arrested in connection with a violent disorder incident in Farnagh on Sunday afternoon have been granted bail following a special sitting of Longford District Court on Monday night.
The incident occurred on Sunday between 4.30pm and 4.50pm. Videos circulated via social media of the fracas, which saw a large crowd shouting loudly on the green area of Mac Eoin Park, many of whom wielded sticks and other weapons.
There was no objection to bail for Sabrina McDonagh, 38 Farnagh, Longford, and Sharon Keane and Joseph McDonagh, both of 37 Farnagh, Longford, who were all charged with engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour.
Ms McDonagh was also charged with being in possession of a blunt instrument; Ms Keane was charged with having an iron bar; while Mr McDonagh was charged with having a pitchfork. All three were remanded on bail with strict conditions until September 15.
There was an objection to bail for both Pauline Dempsey of 79 McKeown Park, Farnagh, Longford and for John Robertson, Moatfarrell, Ballinalee, Longford.
Ms Dempsey was charged with threatening and abusive behaviour and with being in possession of a plastic stick, two feet in length, which Gda Declan Brislane opined may have belonged to a broom or a sweeping brush.
Gda Brislane explained to the court that he had viewed footage, which showed a large group of people on the green and “a lot of shouting and screaming”.
Ms Dempsey, he said, is identified on the footage, and identified herself on the footage during her interview.
“She admitted to being in possession of the stick and that it could cause harm,” he said, but no injuries were inflicted to the other party by Ms Dempsey, he added.
When asked about his concerns should Ms Dempsey be granted bail, Gda Brislane said that he would be worried about a repeat of the occurrence.
“There were 50 to 80 people along the street when gardaí arrived and there were cars abandoned on the street while people were watching this fight,” he said.
“There would be a likelihood of reoffending due to the seriousness of this offence and how quickly it escalated.”
Ms Dempsey is currently on High Court bail for being in possession of ammunition and a fire arm in September of last year, and was given strict bail conditions including that she not commit any offence and that she be of good behaviour.
Addressing Gda Brislane, Solicitor, John Quinn, insisted that his client, Ms Dempsey, was the victim in the disorder.
“If you looked into this properly, she was the victim. She was in her mother’s house with her child and the windows were smashed in.
“She went out to these people and picked up the stick, which wasn’t hers. She picked up something that was thrown on her lawn and she was on the street telling these people to go away from her house,” he insisted.
“The CCTV doesn’t show her committing any offence.”
Ms Dempsey, when taking to the witness box, explained that she was in the house with her mother and child, when a gathering came outside and started shouting abuse and allegations at her.
She denied she was involved in any criminal activity and said she picked the stick up and “pegged it over the wall”.
“I didn’t do this,” she said, “They came to my house and what? I’ve to go down for them?”
Judge Alan Mitchell, having heard the evidence, said that he doesn’t condone the behaviour but remanded Ms Dempsey on bail to September 15, with similar conditions to her High Court bail, including that she sign on daily at Longford Garda Station.
John Robertson was charged with being in possession of an offensive weapon, namely a chimney or sewer rod, the court heard. He was also charged with public order offenses and two section three assaults.
Gda John Hanley told the court that Mr Robertson could be identified via the footage of the incident and could be seen holding what he himself identified as a chimney or sewer rod.
“He can be seen swinging it a number of times. He made contact with two of the injured party and was very abusive in the way he used the weapon,” said Gda Hanley.
One of those who was injured received marks to his arm, while a second person has a broken wrist, he added, but that needs to be confirmed by medical records.
Solicitor for Mr Robinson explained that her client lives in Moatfarrell, Ballinalee, and would be willing to stay out of Longford town if granted bail.
He was on his way to collect his child when the incident occurred, she said, and only got involved to protect his child and partner.
“These people had surrounded his girlfriend’s house. He saw his partner and his child being attacked,” she said.
His family, she added, had managed to get a sum of €500 together, which was “a very significant sum for the family”, and Mr Robertson was prepared to sign on at Granard Garda Station and abide by a curfew.
“This defendant can certainly be distinguished from the others,” said Judge Alan Mitchell, who said he was reluctant to grant bail due to the seriousness of the offences.
“He’s getting a short remand to see if he complies with bail,” he added, remanding Mr Robertson on bail to July 7, and warning him that the gardaí are entitled to reenter the charges should he not comply.
“Judge Hughes might not be as patient at 11 o’clock in the morning as I am at nine o'clock at night.”