Saturday 17 March 2018

Ex-Fine Gael TD avoids jail sentence after conviction for pub assault

Former TD Sean Conlan: ‘blameless record’. Photo: Arthur Carron
Former TD Sean Conlan: ‘blameless record’. Photo: Arthur Carron

Patsy McArdle

A former Fine Gael TD has avoided a custodial sentence but was fined €750 when he was convicted of a pub assault in his family-owned premises in Co Monaghan.

Sean Conlan, a 42-year-old solicitor of Main Street, Ballyay, was charged with unlawfully assaulting and causing harm to Enda Duffy of Annahia, Ballybay, at the licensed premises in Ballybay, on August 23 last year.

He also faced a charge for the alleged use of a broken pint-glass during the incident.

It was also alleged Mr Duffy sustained a minor injury to an arm.

Judge Conal Gibbons said at a special sitting of the District Court yesterday that the assault was one at "the lower scale".

A victim impact statement was presented to the judge by Fiona Murphy BL.

The statement was not read out in court and Judge Gibbons said he was somewhat surprised to see that it contained some reference to the impact of media coverage on the victim.

It had to be accepted, the judge remarked, that the profile of this particular case was of interest to the public and media.

The judge also noted the victim impact statement raised certain issues, even some constitutional issues, over which the court had "no control".

Defence lawyer James MacGuill handed in a number of testimonials outlining the "excellent character" of Conlan, whom he said had a "blameless record".

Judge Gibbons said that it was evident the consumption of alcohol by the parties in the pub had contributed to the "flash-of-the-moment" incident.

Judge Gibbons said it was also clear the assault was not premeditated.

The judge said he was impressed by the testimonials presented to the court which indicated how Conlan, who is a former Dáil representative, was held in the highest esteem in the community by all his colleagues.

He said the only penalty option with which he was left was to impose a fine and, accordingly, he fined Conlan €750, allowing him six months to pay on the assault charge.

On the application of the defence lawyer, Mr MacGuill, the judged fixed recognisances for an appeal.

The former TD resigned from Fine Gael, prior to the last General Election, in the wake of some dissatisfaction he expressed concerning the response by party leader Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and other senior party officials, to a number of issues he raised.

He claimed he had unsuccessfully sought to arrange for a meeting between Mr Kenny and landowners protesting against the use of pylons and overhead cables for a proposed new cross-border electricity link.

Conlan stood as an Independent in the general election, but failed to retain his seat.

Irish Independent

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