Wednesday 21 March 2018

Ex-senator held three times over weekend also breached crime scene

James Heffernan. Pic Tom Burke
James Heffernan. Pic Tom Burke

Ralph Riegel, Niall O'Connor and Kevin Doyle

A former politician who was arrested three times over the Bank Holiday weekend had previously been detained by gardaí for breaching a crime scene.

James Heffernan, who was a Labour Party senator in the last Seanad, was released from garda custody yesterday morning.

He was arrested three times in 36 hours in the area surrounding the Indiependence festival on the old Dublin Road in Mitchelstown, Co Cork.

In May, Mr Heffernan was also questioned and subsequently released without charge after he had entered a crime scene in Dublin's Temple Bar.

Mr Heffernan is a qualified primary school teacher and former Limerick county councillor for the Kilmallock area.

He was elected to the 24th Seanad as a Labour candidate but lost the party whip after voting against the government on the Social Welfare Bill in 2012.

Earlier this year, the 36-year-old ran in the General Election for the Social Democrats, receiving over 3,000 first preferences.

The Irish Independent understands that he has been in dispute with that party in recent weeks and failed to attend a disciplinary hearing. The recent arrests have caused concern among his colleagues.

The first arrest on Sunday was on public-order grounds.

Gardaí became concerned about what has been described as erratic behaviour. It is alleged that one officer was verbally abused.

Sources say Mr Heffernan refused to calm down or leave the area as directed. Ultimately, he was detained and taken to Fermoy garda station.

It is understood that he vehemently protested about being detained. During one angry confrontation in the station, it is alleged that one garda was assaulted. The officer was not injured and did not require medical treatment.

Mr Heffernan is then alleged to have spat at another arresting officer. Several hours later, he was released without charge.

However, 90 minutes later, he was detained outside Mitchelstown for suspected drink driving and taken back to the garda station for a second time.

After he had been released, a third incident occurred in the Mitchelstown area later on Monday and he was re-arrested.

This incident is understood to have involved another public-order matter similar to what had allegedly happened on Sunday afternoon.

He was taken to Fermoy garda station and detained overnight, before being released without charge yesterday.

Mr Heffernan was not responding to calls yesterday but did post a photograph of a cut lip on social media.

A file will be sent to the DPP.

Irish Independent

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