Ex-FF senator bailed on charge of demanding €100,000 with menaces
A RETIRED Fianna Fail senator appeared in court along with two other men on a charge of demanding money with menaces.
Francis O'Brien (70), from Corwillan, Latton, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan – who was a member of Seanad Eireann from 1989 to 2011, and also a member of Monaghan County Council from 1979 to 2003 – appeared at a sitting of Carrickmacross District Court.
Also facing charges were farmer Michael Marron (56), of Taghart North, Shercock, Co Cavan; and businessman Raymond McCaughey (57), of Drumganus, Broomfield, Co Monaghan.
The three men are accused of attempting to make gain for themselves or others, by making an unwarranted demand for €100,000 from a Michael Heelan, with menaces, at Tullyvaragh Lower, Carrickmacross, on April 27 last year.
The three accused were charged separately before Judge Sean MacBride and stood in the body of the court while the charges were read.
Garda inspector Fergus Treanor, dealing with Mr Marron, who was the first of the three to be charged, said the State had no objection to his remand on bail while a book of evidence was prepared for a criminal trial.
Judge MacBride remanded Mr Marron to a hearing on May 22 at Carrickmacross District Court, on a nominal bail of €5,000, but directed that he must surrender his passport to gardai, not apply for any travel documents, sign on once a week at Carrickmacross garda station, and have no contact with any witnesses.
Mr Marron's defence lawyer Gerry Jones said his client was willing to comply fully with the judge's directions.
Evidence of the arrest of the second accused, Mr McCaughey, was presented by Detective Garda John Ogle. He was charged and remanded on bail of €5,000 to the May 22 hearing, on similar conditions.
The former senator, Mr O'Brien, was the last of the three to be charged and he stood up in the body of the court while a further remand was sought by Superintendent Gerry Russell, Carrickmacross.
Mr O'Brien did not speak during the brief hearing and was also remanded on €5,000 bail to the May 22 hearing.
He was ordered to surrender his passport and sign on weekly at Castleblayney garda station in Co Monaghan.
Judge MacBride adjourned all applications for legal aid for the trio until the next hearing.
Mr O'Brien was chairman of Monaghan County Council in 1986/87.
He was publicly linked with Michael Fingleton of the Irish Nationwide Building Society in financial transactions and borrowings, estimated at more than €10m.
It was alleged the money was borrowed for the purchase of land at Inniskeen village in Co Monaghan for a huge housing development project, which never materialised because of objections to the property being re-zoned by the local authority.
One of the father of four's sons, John, is a prominent Co Monaghan estate agent and also a Fianna Fail member of Monaghan County Council.