Friday 24 November 2017

Healy-Rae gives alibi to neighbour accused of poaching

Michael Healy-Rae (right) and his neighbour John Joseph O'Reilly outside Kenmare District Court in Co Kerry yesterday.
Michael Healy-Rae (right) and his neighbour John Joseph O'Reilly outside Kenmare District Court in Co Kerry yesterday.

Owen O'Shea

INDEPENDENT TD Michael Healy-Rae has condemned a 'secret recording' of a conversation he had with a senior official of Inland Fisheries Ireland in connection with a case in which his neighbour was accused of illegal fishing and assaulting a fisheries officer.

Mr Healy-Rae was offered as an alibi in court yesterday for John Joseph O'Reilly, who was accused of six breaches of the Fisheries Acts.

Mr O'Reilly of Main Street, Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, was charged with the offences at a sitting of Kenmare District Court. However, the charges were withdrawn by solicitor Kevin Quirke on behalf of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Solicitor for Mr O'Reilly, Padraig O'Connell, told Judge James O'Connor the prosecution should never have been pursued. He said there were eight witnesses ready to be presented to the court – including Mr Healy-Rae – who could provide Mr O'Reilly with an alibi.

ASSAULTING

Mr O'Reilly was alleged to have been present at 'Pluck Pool' on the north bank of the Roughty River near Kilgarvan at 10.20pm on April 29, 2012, and was said to have been in possession and control of a fishing net. The charges also included obstructing, impeding and assaulting a fisheries officer.

Mr O'Connell told the court that Mr Healy-Rae telephoned Inland Fisheries Ireland to offer an alibi for Mr O'Reilly.

"Mr Healy-Rae gave a cast-iron alibi by way of a phone call to the fisheries board," said Mr O'Connell. That call was recorded, unknown to Mr Healy-Rae.

"Despite this, the prosecution was subsequently pursued," said Mr O'Connell.

The content of the phone-call from Mr Healy-Rae was not revealed as all of the charges against Mr O'Reilly were withdrawn in court. Mr O'Reilly was awarded costs of €250.

Speaking after the case, Mr Healy-Rae said he had been completely vindicated in contacting a senior official of Inland Fisheries Ireland on May 4, 2012.

On the night in question, he had asked Mr O'Reilly to tend to one of his heifers and Mr O'Reilly had done so.

"This man was completely innocent and I knew that. I was just being honest and offering what had happened to the IFI.

"But to think I was being secretly recorded by a senior official there is an absolute disgrace," he said.

Irish Independent

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