Friday 15 December 2017

No charges over assault claim by councillor

Frank McBrearty Jnr
Frank McBrearty Jnr

Greg Harkin

NOBODY will be prosecuted over hotly disputed claims regarding a politician at the centre of one of the State's most embarrassing garda investigations, the DPP has said.

Gardai spent six months interviewing more than 50 people and also called in the Garda Ombudsman after Donegal County Councillor Seamus O Domhnaill claimed former Mayor Frank McBrearty Jnr had assaulted and threatened him during a break in a council meeting.

Mr McBrearty rose to national prominence when he was cleared by the Morris Tribunal – which found that gardai had attempted to frame him for the murder of a man in October 1996 in the Donegal town of Raphoe.

It later emerged that cattle dealer Richie Barron had not been murdered at all, and probably died as a result of a traffic accident. Mr McBrearty was later awarded €2.5m in damages by the State.

Both sides accept there was a heated row as councillors met for a budget workshop in Lifford on October 21 last year.

In a corridor outside the chamber, Mr O Domhnaill had alleged he was assaulted and threatened by McBrearty.

Mr O Domhnaill then made an official complaint to An Garda Siochana.

Mr McBrearty last night said: "I categorically reject all of Cllr O Domhnaill's accusations made against me."

Superintendent Andrew Archbold headed the investigation, which Mr McBrearty refused to co-operate with.

However, officers did interview 28 other county councillors – as well as members of staff of the council and members of the public.

"After months of trivial, pointless, and redundant questioning, not to mention the unnecessary garda manpower which this whole non-event involved, I have been told by the DPP that I will not be prosecuted," said Mr McBrearty.

He added: "The unnecessary anxiety and strain which these allegations have placed upon my family and myself, only served as an unwelcome reminder of the cruelties and injustices which we as a family have faced in the past."

Mr McBrearty says he was considering asking gardai to investigate Mr O Domhnaill for allegedly wasting police time.

But Mr O Domhnaill said: "I know what happened and so do other witnesses.

"I've been told now the matter is a civil issue and not a criminal one and I will come back to this after the election.

"I absolutely refute the suggestion that I made all this up."

Irish Independent

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