Saturday 25 November 2017

Anti-water charges protester denies using abusive language towards President Higgins

Derek Byrne Photo: Collins Courts
Derek Byrne Photo: Collins Courts

Andrew Phelan

An anti-water charges protester has denied using threatening and abusive language towards President Michael D Higgins.

Derek Byrne (37) allegedly heckled Mr Higgins during a demonstration outside a school in north Dublin.

The president was leaving Coláiste Eoin in Finglas at the time.

Mr Byrne had dates set in March for a two-day hearing of his case after his solicitor told Dublin District Court he would have to investigate whether the President could be summonsed to appear as a witness.

President Michael D Higgins
President Michael D Higgins

Mr Byrne, of Streamville Road, Kilbarrack pleaded not guilty threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour.

Two co-accused are also facing the same charges arising from the protest; Diarmuid Dubhghlais (51) of Pairc Ui Mhaoiliosa, Fionn Ghlais Thiar and Anna Clarke (35) of St Donagh's Road, Donaghmede.

Mr Dubhghlais was given a different day for his trial in the Irish language at the request of his solicitor, Malachy Steenson, while Ms Clarke’s case was adjourned in her absence.

Solicitor Cahir O’Higgins, said Ms Clarke was no longer in the jurisdiction and had not been aware of the summons being served.

Mr O’Higgins said “quite a few witnesses” would be called.

“I need to investigate whether an t-Uachtarain can be summonsed,” he said.

Also at the same court, Joan Collins TD and another group of 10 people pleaded not guilty to public order offences following a separate protest against the installation of water meters.

Judge Michael Walsh gave them dates in February for the hearing of their cases.

The court heard their trial in the district court will take around three days.

The United Left Alliance TD is accused of a public order offence arising from a protest against the installation of meters in Harold's Cross.

She is accused of failing to comply with garda directions at Parnell Road on April 20 this year.

Mr O’Higgins said he was seeking a date for hearing in these cases.

He said there were issues in terms of disclosure that he was “not happy with” but this may be a matter for the trial.

He initially gave a two-day time estimate “given the volume of defendants and potential number of witnesses.”

He said there was CCTV that had been disclosed and asked for any other relevant footage to be disclosed by the prosecution.

The court heard there had been CCTV footage recorded at a Maxol garage but this had been taped over.

Mr O’Higgins said this footage would have provided alibis for at least three of his clients.

Mr O’Higgins said UTV footage had been provided through the gardai and he wanted to confirm that this was the only footage available from the station.

State Solicitor Michael Durkan said a garda's personal camera did not contain any relevant footage.

There was laughter from the public gallery where most of the defendants and their supporters were sitting.

Mr O'Higgins asked Judge Michael Walsh for as early a hearing date as possible, saying some of his clients were public representatives.

One was a TD, she was innocent and she should be able to have her good name vindicated prior to an election, he said.

“I am specifically asking for expedition in this case,” he said.

Judge Walsh said all the accused enjoy a presumption of innocence.

He set three days in February for the trial, remarking that he did not think two days would be sufficient.

Also accused of that failing to comply with garda directions are Patrick Burke (50) of Dolphin House, Rialto; Gavin Byrne (42) of Temple Manor Way, Greenhills; Andrew Canning (55) of Clanbrassil Close, Clanbrassil Street; Dublin City Councillor Patrick Dunne (48) of St Gerard's Road, Greenhills, United Left Alliance; Aaron Healy (25) of Saul Road, Crumlin; Adele Kenny (39) of Monasterboice Road, Crumlin; Sofian Murphy (29) of Dolphin Road, Drimnagh, Oisin O Ra (18) of Derravaragh Road, Terenure, John O'Reilly (62) of Leiglin Road, Crumlin and Patrick Waine (56) of St Malachy's Road, Walkinstown.

Ms Kenny and Mr Murphy are also accused of garda obstruction.

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