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Sunday 22 October 2017

Farmer, lawyer and former TD in court charged with dangerous driving

Mr McNamara is pleading his innocence to the charges. Picture: Tom Burke
Mr McNamara is pleading his innocence to the charges. Picture: Tom Burke

Gordon Deegan

Former TD, Michael McNamara (43) appeared in court today charged with dangerous driving and obstructing a Garda during the course of his duties.

At Killaloe District Court sitting at O’Donovan’s pub in Ballina, the former Labour TD for Clare, Mr McNamara appeared in relation to the two alleged offences.

Mr McNamara is pleading his innocence to the charges and is to fully contest the prosecution at a hearing later this year.

Lawyer and farmer McNamara has hired road traffic law expert and barrister, Martin Dully BL to lead the defence team in the case.

In the case, McNamara is charged with dangerous driving contrary to Section 53 (1) of the Road Traffic Act near his home at Tobernagath, Scarriff in east Clare on December 10, 2016.

McNamara of Ballyglass, Tulla is also charged with resisting and obstructing Garda Darren McLaughlin during the course of his duties under Section 19 of the Public Order Act at the same location of the alleged dangerous driving on the same date.

Those convicted in the district court of obstructing a Garda in the course of their duties face a jail sentence of up to six months or a fine of €635 while those convicted of dangerous driving in the district court face up to six months in jail and a fine of €127.

The alleged offences took place almost 10 months after Mr McNamara lost his seat in the 2016 General Election.

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At O’Donoovan’s pub in Ballina, Mr Dully told Judge Brian O’Shea that the case will take two hours when evidence is heard in the case in December.

The former TD was in court for the brief hearing into the case where Judge O’Shea ordered all that State documents be disclosed to the defence following an application by Mr Dully.

McNamara consulted with his legal team outside court after the brief hearing into the case.

McNamara lost his Clare seat in the February 2016 General Election to GP, Dr Michael Harty after the east Clare man polled 4,472 first preference votes.

McNamara lost his seat following the 11th count at the election. At the time, a despondent McNamara spoke of an “incredibly tough campaign” where he said that he was subject to a lot of vitriol on Facebook.

He said that "I look forward to the day that you lose your seat" was one of a number of messages that he received via his Facebook account during the campaign.

He said at the time: “I don’t fully understand what drives someone to go out at nighttime and sit down and post something on their Facebook page telling them that ‘I look forward to your demise'. It is a phenomenon of social media - it is not unique to politics.”

McNamara was first elected to the Dáil in 2011.

He crossed the political divide during the lifetime of the last Dáil when he married Sarah-Jane Hillery, a fellow barrister and granddaughter of former president and Fianna Fáil Minister, Patrick Hillery.

He also worked as a human rights lawyer in Eastern Europe and with the United Nations in Afghanistan before returning to Ireland in 2005 to run the family farm and practice as a barrister.

In court, Judge O’Shea adjourned the case to October 25 to Ennis District Court for mention to get an update on the disclosure issues and adjourned the case for hearing to Killaloe District Court to December 5.


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