Tuesday 12 December 2017

Former senator to go on trial after he walked into crime scene at Temple Bar

Former Senator James Heffernan
Former Senator James Heffernan

Tom Tuite

A former senator will go on trial in January in connection with his arrest after he walked into a crime scene in Dublin’s Temple Bar.

Ex-Social Democrats and previously Labour party member James Heffernan from Limerick appeared at Dublin District Court on Thursday to enter a plea to public order charges.

The 37-year-old had been arrested and taken to Pearse Street Garda Station following his arrest on the night of March 10 last year in Temple Bar square where gardai had to set up a perimeter in relation to another unrelated incident, a serious assault which had occurred in the area.

Mr Heffernan, who was still a senator at the time, was released without charge later that night, however, gardai at Pearse Street station subsequently had a summons issued for him in connection with his arrest.

The ex-senator, with an address at Main Street, Kilfinane, Co. Limerick, faced his second appearance at Dublin District Court on Thursday accused of two offences under the Public Order Act.

One charge is for failing to leave the Temple Bar square area on March 10, 2016 in a peaceful and orderly fashion after being directed by a garda, an offence which can result in a fine and a sentence of up to six months in jail.

The second charge is breach of the peace by engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour, which can also lead to a fine as well a three-month sentence. The case was listed today for him to formally enter a plea or have a trial date set.

At an earlier stage the court had heard the charges would be fully contested.

When it was called, defence solicitor Brian Keenan told Judge Alan Mitchell that his client was parking outside the building at that moment.

However, he had instructions from Mr Heffernan to seek a hearing date and Judge Mitchell noted that a not guilty plea was being entered.

Dressed in jeans and a black jacket Mr Heffernan arrived as the judge ordered that the hearing would take place in January.

Legal aid had been granted at his previous court appearance in June.

The former primary school teacher and ex-member of Limerick Co. Council was elected for Labour to the 24th Seanad in 2011 but lost the party whip the following year when he voted against budget cuts. He joined the Social Democrats in 2015 and was an unsuccessful candidate for the party in last year’s general election.

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