Thursday 8 December 2016

Coveney knew of appointee's assault

HARRY LEECH

Published 20/11/2011 | 05:00

MINISTER for Agriculture Simon Coveney has confirmed that he was aware one of the non-executive directors he appointed to the board of Bord Bia was found guilty of assault earlier this year after attacking a judge at an awards ceremony in Dublin.

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Mr Coveney recently appointed Gary Brown, 51, with an address at Howth Road, Clontarf, Dublin, to the board of Bord Bia. Brown was found guilty of assault earlier this year but does not have a criminal record after the judge applied the Probation Act and directed him to pay a large sum to charity.

On May 7, 2009, Brown was at the An Post Direct Marketing Awards in the Mansion House, where his company, RMG Target, won the top prize for the fourth year in a row.

The court was told that in his victory speech he said: "It's great to see new faces coming in" which were "making great videos that make us laugh every year."

After the speech, two of the judges, John O'Connor and Justin Cullen, asked to speak with him in a corridor outside. The court heard that Mr O'Connor and Mr Cullen criticised the acceptance speech but were told by Brown to "f*** off".

The court heard that Mr O'Connor called Brown "a knacker" before Brown punched him in the face five times and that he ended the night in hospital.

Brown told the court that Mr O'Connor and Mr Cullen had been aggressive towards him when they came to his table and he was embarrassed because some of his clients were present. He also said that he feared he would be struck by Mr O'Connor.

Brown was found guilty of the assault, but was spared a criminal conviction after Judge Ann Watkin directed him to make a €20,000 donation to St Vincent de Paul.

Judge Watkin said that after hearing the evidence before the court, she believed that the incident was not "totally unprovoked" and that she believed Brown had been "approached in a rather aggressive manner". However, she emphasised that this was not a justification for the assault.

In a statement to the Sunday Independent, Mr Coveney said that he was fully aware of the incident before he appointed Brown as a director of the State's food promotion board and that he believed that Brown was "well qualified for the role".

Board members of Bord Bia shared €147,000 in fees last year, including almost €14,000 in expenses.

Sunday Independent

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