Friday 24 January 2020

Former assistant of Ceann Comhairle pleads guilty to stealing €200,000

County councillor Mark Dalton admitted stealing €200,000
County councillor Mark Dalton admitted stealing €200,000
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

A former parliamentary assistant of the Ceann Comhairle has pleaded guilty to stealing more than €200,000 to feed a gambling addiction.

Mark Dalton (51) stole the money from a housing association of which he was a director over a five-year period. The former Fianna Fáil member and sitting county councillor, who worked as an aid for Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail at the time of the offences, admitted to 28 counts of theft and fraud at Naas District Court yesterday.

The court heard the accused had a gambling addiction and the stolen money had been "wasted on the bookies".

Giving evidence, Gda John Butler said he arrested Dalton at 9.20am on yesterday morning and had charged him with 28 separate charges of taking the money from Cill Urnai Housing Association Limited on dates from May 2009 to August 2014.

Half of the charges were brought under Section 25 of the Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Act 2001 and the other half under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Act.

Dalton, of White Castle Lawns, Athy, replied to all of the charges: "I wish to plead guilty to all charges and co-operate fully as I have done from the commencement of the process."

The court heard the fraud came to light when an accountant became suspicious of the transactions.

Gda Butler said the offences had taken place over a four to five-year period. He added that Dalton has a family and children. Free legal aid was granted and Dalton was remanded on bail and is due to appear before Naas Circuit Court on June 19.

He had been a close friend and political associate of Mr Ó Fearghail for more than 30 years and is a respected figure in Athy.

Dalton is a sitting member of Kildare County Council representing the Athy Municipal District.

Irish Independent

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