Friday 30 September 2016

The GAA doctor and the €1.9m forged will

Liz Farsaci

Published 04/03/2016 | 02:30

Dr James Cassidy. Photo: Jonathan Porter/Presseye
Dr James Cassidy. Photo: Jonathan Porter/Presseye

A former GAA team doctor who was accused of conspiring with others to attempt to forge a €1.9m will has been found guilty of two counts of professional misconduct by the Medical Council.

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Dr James Cassidy, who works as a GP in Dundalk, faced allegations before the professional watchdog relating to a conviction in Northern Ireland.

And now gardaí are investigating an incident where a press photographer was injured as Dr Cassidy left the Medical Council hearing yesterday.

In June 2014, at the Crown Court in Newry, Dr Cassidy was convicted of conspiring with others to attempt to falsify the will of Catherine Haughey, and a property sale agreement.

South Armagh publican Ms Haughey, who was a widow and childless, died in 2004 at the age of 81. Concerns about her will were raised shortly after her death.

Dr Cassidy, who has four grown daughters with his wife, told the Medical Council inquiry of the extreme shame and embarrassment his actions brought to his family.

"My children and wife have had to undergo considerable embarrassment in their own lives as a result of my actions."

When asked how he felt about his participation in the matters relating to his conviction in the North, Dr Cassidy replied: "I can only say shame, first of all to my family, [and] to my profession.

"It's not very nice at this stage in your life to accept that you did something hugely irresponsible," said Dr Cassidy, who will turn 64 next week.

Newry Crown Court heard in 2014 that two weeks before Ms Haughey died in December 2004, her godson - farmer Francis Tiernan from Forkhill, Co Armagh - got a quantity surveyor to rewrite his godmother's will. It was witnessed by a doctor - Dr Cassidy.

According to the true will, Tiernan had been bequeathed £1,000. However, in the forged will Tiernan was to receive Ms Haughey's home, known as Annie's Cottage, her Slieve Gullion pub and the rest of the £1m estate.

Ms Haughey's body was exhumed in 2007 amid fresh suspicions surrounding her death.

She had been found dead in the living quarters of her pub. However, a post-mortem examination later confirmed the 81-year-old died of natural causes.

In June 2014 at the Crown Court in Newry, Cassidy was convicted of conspiring with others to attempt to falsify the will of Catherine Haughey, and a property sale agreement. The conspiracy was described in court as "like a Hollywood script".

Tiernan had featured prominently in the Smithwick tribunal into IRA and Garda collusion in Dundalk.

It was alleged he had been a member of the IRA in Newry, although he was never convicted of a terrorist offence.

The Smithwick report also claimed Tiernan was involved in "large-scale smuggling" and was suspected of being involved in fraud in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and England.

Dr Cassidy, who was a former doctor for the Tyrone GAA team, declined to make a comment to the media after the disciplinary inquiry concluded yesterday. Sanctions will be determined at a later date.

Dr Cassidy's contrite words at the inquiry were in sharp contrast to his actions outside the Medical Council during a break.

While being photographed by members of the media, Dr Cassidy confronted photographer Paul Nicholls angrily and made a grab for his camera.

Mr Nicholls said he told Dr Cassidy to not touch him, and then rang the gardaí. Officers arrived at the Medical Council and took statements from witnesses.

Last night gardaí confirmed they are investigating an incident where a man was injured at the offices of the Medical Council at Kingram Place in Dublin.

Irish Independent

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