FF TD on assault charges over alleged pub attack
A FIANNA Fail TD held back a young man from helping his friend who was being kicked and beaten by a group of men, a court heard yesterday.
Mattie McGrath (50), TD for South Tipperary, appeared before Clonmel Circuit Court on three charges relating to an alleged attack on a group of youths in August 2006.
The court heard that Mr McGrath prevented one young man from helping his friend who was "set upon" by a group of men who it was alleged Mr McGrath had called out of a pub.
Mr McGrath is charged along with five other men, including his son Edmond, of assault causing harm to one man, and of violent disorder and of using threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour in a public place.
Mr McGrath, who topped the Fianna Fail vote in his constituency in the last general election, pleaded not guilty to all three charges and sat in court yesterday beside his wife during proceedings.
The court was told that the attack on the group of youths was a "joint enterprise" by all six accused.
The alleged attacks are said to have taken place in the carpark of a church in Mr McGrath's hometown of Newcastle, Co Tipperary, shortly before midnight on August 14, 2006.
Giving evidence Timothy Cleere said that Mr McGrath came out of Nugent's pub in the town and started "roaring and shouting" at his friends calling them "vandals".
Mr Cleere said he had been drinking bottles of beer with friends in the carpark when Mr McGrath approached them.
He said Mr McGrath then got into a car and made a phone call and that within 10 seconds he was attacked by a group of 15 "grown men" who came out of the pub. Mr McGrath, his son Edmond both of Garreneasy, Newcastle; Christopher Cullinan, Jason Ahearne, James Lonergan, all of Liam Lynch Terrace, Newcastle, and Anthony O'Dwyer of Garrincasey, Newcastle are all accused of assault causing harm to Mr Cleere.
Defence for Mr McGrath put it to Mr Cleere in cross examination that he was drunk and that he had "taunted" a number of people, including a heavily pregnant woman, leaving the pub on the night of the alleged incident.
The court heard that Mr McGrath had intervened in this dispute and that his client had acted as peacemaker by leading away the man who Mr Cleere had picked a fight with.
The trial continues today.