Bodhrán committee's reference for former chair guilty of fraud
THE former chairman of the World Bodhrán Championships is this week serving a two- week jail term on fraud charges related to the Milltown festival - the sentence comes despite a glowing character reference from the committee that appointed him.
Dan Cronin, 23 Kilcolman, Milltown, cut a sorry figure as he left Cahersiveen courthouse on Thursday carrying a large holdall packed for prison.
He is guilty of writing nine cheques totalling almost € 12,000 from his former employer's account, cheques which he claims were used to pay off debts incurred by the Milltown festival.
He is further charged with 63 counts of fraud relating to over € 20,000 illegally secured from the festival account. These charges are currently awaiting direction from the DPP but the court has heard that these are expected to proceed to the circuit court.
All debts have been paid back by Mr Cronin's family. Despite a letter from Milltown Listry branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann - festival and overseeing committee organisers - asking the court for leniency, Judge James O'Connor said the defendant still had to serve time.
On Thursday, solicitor Pádraig O'Connell asked the judge to reconsider his decision to remand the defendant for two weeks. "It is the classic case of a fallen man facing the ignominy of jail," the solicitor stated.
He added that a representative from the comhaltas branch - Eoin O'Shea - had been present at the previous court sitting and had shook hands with the defendant as a conciliation.
While acknowledging the letter, Judge O'Connor replied that the defendant had a prior history with a similar offence and stated that two weeks was more than reasonable.
While stating that the committee did not condone the actions of its former chairman, the letter highlighted the "tremendous work" the defendant had carried out in his community in the past.
"The committee does not bear any outstanding personal ill will towards Mr Cronin arising from his actions," the letter stated.
It asked the court to consider the "enormous social and economic contribution" Mr Cronin including to the bodhrán festival and events such as Fleadh Cheoil Chiarraí. It also labelled as "immense" his contribution to the local economy, local tourism industry and generation of revenue for local businesses, adding that he had made a major contribution to community spirit in the town.
"The committee firmly believes that Mr Cronin has already been punished through his forced departure from many key roles in his local community and the fact that he has become extremely ostracised and alienated in the community," it continued.
"Mr Cronin was the life and soul of the community for many years and the committee believes that having lost this status and role in his community has already impacted adversely on Mr Cronin's social standing and his health and well being," it concluded.
Mr Cronin will appear at the Tralee sitting of Castleisland court next Thursday where he will be remanded for another week.