28 Jun 2022

‘Slap in the face’ to Longford taxpayers as woman on free legal aid travels to Turkey

Bail controversy: Courts must take tougher hand

Longford court house.

A judge has been urged to revoke the legal aid of a Longford woman accused of carrying out a feud-related assault who is due to fly back into the country tomorrow (Thursday) after spending ten days in Turkey getting cosmetic dental treatment done while on free legal aid after getting her bail terms relaxed.

Thirty-five-year-old Teresa Dinnegan, 18 Grian Ard, Longford jetted out to the Aegean coastal city of Izmir last Tuesday after Judge Bernadette Owens relaxed her bail terms for two weeks for the purposes of “dental work” to be carried out.

Ms Dinnegan, who together with two other co-accused, is charged with carrying out an assault on another woman inside Penneys, Longford Shopping Centre on March 16.

All three were arrested and subsequently charged after an alleged brawl broke out in front of shocked customers and staff, resulting in the store’s closure for a number of hours.

Details surrounding Ms Dinnegan's bail while depending on the taxpayer-funded criminal legal aid system has led to stinging criticism for a major overhaul.

Fine Gael Senator Micheál Carrigy said the controversy was effectively showing “two fingers to the taxpayers of Longford” and urged for the courts to take a tougher hand when granting bail.

“When you see people granted bail and given legal aid and then are able to travel abroad on a holiday, I just think there needs to be a review of the free legal aid (system),” said Senator Carrigy.

“I think the judiciary needs to take a stronger view and take into consideration the views of local gardaí.

“We can’t have a situation where people have conditions to their bail and then have the ability to leave the country.

“I don’t agree with it. Bail conditions are there for a reason and should be kept and in this case, it needs to be reviewed and revoked.”

Those sentiments were shared by Fianna Fáil Cllr Seamus Butler, who said the controversy illustrated the need for justice chiefs to closely examine an individual’s personal financial circumstances before signing off on free legal aid.

"If you didn't know better you would think it was some kind of set-up," said local Cllr Seamus Butler.

"What this does is it absolutely epitomises regardless of a person's circumstances, the need for a person's means to be rigorously examined because anyone that can go on a trip to Turkey and have cosmetic dentistry carried out needs to be investigated.

"What this is is a slap in the face to so many people who are struggling to make ends meet with the cost of living and with so many struggling with fuel poverty. It's a complete and utter circus."

Ms Dinnegan is due to reappear before Longford District Court on July 5 when DPP directions will be made known.

Longford woman on legal aid allowed to fly to Turkey for dental work

A woman accused of assaulting another woman in a Longford department store has been given the green light to fly to Turkey for dental treatment despite being on free legal aid at the taxpayer's expense.

Two women bailed over alleged feud related assault in Longford store

Two women have appeared in court charged in connection to assaulting another woman in a feud related incident that forced a department store in Longford town to shut its doors last week.

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