Friday 6 December 2019

Son of TD Ó Snodaigh avoids jail sentence for spitting on garda

Fearghal Ó Snodaigh ‘squared up’ to a garda in taxi fare row. Photo: Collins Courts
Fearghal Ó Snodaigh ‘squared up’ to a garda in taxi fare row. Photo: Collins Courts
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A son of Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh spat at one garda and "squared up" to another when he was arrested after a dispute over a taxi fare.

Fearghal Ó Snodaigh (24) became aggressive and heavily resisted arrest in a drunken episode at a north Dublin Garda station, a court heard.

Judge Ann Ryan described his behaviour as "utterly unacceptable", but said she would leave him without a criminal record if he takes part in a restorative justice programme.

Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh and his wife Aisling Ní Dhálaigh were both in court to support their son, along with the accused's fiancée.

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Fearghal Ó Snodaigh, with an address at Naas Road, Dublin 8, admitted assaulting Gda Niall Carolan at Ballymun garda station by spitting at him.

He also pleaded guilty to obstructing Gda Carolan and using threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour in the incident on February 28 last year.

He had initially denied the charges and the case had been due to go to trial in the non-jury Dublin District Court. However, yesterday he changed his plea to guilty.

Garda Sergeant Damian Beakey said Ó Snodaigh entered the Garda station with a taxi driver and there was an issue over a disputed fare. The accused was extremely intoxicated and "aggressive with gardaí from the start".

Ó Snodaigh was brought into the custody foyer, where he refused to co-operate. He was immediately brought to a cell where his aggression continued. He refused to take off his belt and "spat out at" Gda Carolan, Sgt Beakey said.

Gardaí searched the accused and put him in the cell. He was charged and released into the custody of his father.

Sgt Beakey agreed with defence barrister Emer Ní Chúagáin that Ó Snodaigh, who had no prior convictions, was unlikely to come before the courts again.

The accused had €500 to donate to charity in court and gardaí nominated the stillbirth association Féileacáin.

The defence submitted documents setting out a "context" to the offences, which happened after a "difficult incident" which Ó Snodaigh was struggling to deal with.

Testimonials were also given to the court that "speak to the type of man that he is".

"He is genuinely very sorry about the incident," Ms Ní Chúagáin said, adding that it was "out of character".

The accused has a degree from DIT and is studying for a Masters in Trinity College. His thesis is due in June and he plans to go to the US on a graduate visa.

Ó Snodaigh had good employment prospects and criminal convictions would have a detrimental effect on that, Ms Ní Chúagáin said.

Judge Ryan said engaging with restorative justice would give the accused time to reflect on his behaviour.

She said she would strike the charges out if a report from the programme is positive, and adjourned the case to next February.

Irish Independent

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