Tuesday 24 October 2017

Community activist escapes sanction over eviction row

'guilty' plea - probation act applied

A COMMUNITY-based activist who was arrested at the scene of an eviction in Dundalk has been given the probation act after he pleaded guilty to a public order charge.

Finbar Markey, (37), St Furseys Terrace, Blackrock, admitted a charge of engaging in threatening, insulting or abusive behaviour at the Library Apartments, Chapel Street, on October 16. A charge of failing to comply with the direction of a Garda was struck out after Inspector Martin Beggy said the State would be offering no evidence.

Judge Flann Brennan was told by Inspector Martin Beggy how Gardai were at the Library Apartment complex as a person was being removed from a property by the County Sheriff. Inspector Beggy said there was a number of people at the scene and when the property owner was coming up the steps of the apartment, Markey 'told him to stand his ground and tried to get through the Gardai to get into the property'.

Inspector Beggy said the defendant was in support of the man in the apartment and was arrested for being abusive. The inspector said that to his knowledge, Markey had 'no rights to the property'.

The flat owner was removed and 'there had been a lot of consultation . . . the County Sherriff had a repossession order. Inspector Beggy said: 'Things were developing and while coming up the stairs, this incident occurred that caused further difficulties'.

Markey was arrested and taken to the station. He has a previous conviction for a traffic offence.

Solicitor Conor MacGuill said his client was aware that the eviction was taking place and it had been on social media sites and in the local press. There were other people there, including a group of students who came to observe and there was no other arrest at the time.

Mr MacGuill said the defendant 'made a remark from outside the house to the person who was named on the document' and he added his client 'accepted this comes within the meaning of Section 6 of the Public Order Act'.

The solicitor added that Markey's 'coming before the court in this fashion is regretted' and the defendant had a clear record apart from a failing to produce insurance summons from a number of years ago.

He said Markey, who is 'highly educated', is a community worker who 'contributes on a voluntary basis to people in the community and teaching among his various functions'. He asked Judge Brennan to 'find a way not to record this against him' as Markey was 'coming before the court in circumstances with no ulterior motive'.

Mr MacGuill said: 'His remark distinguished him from the others and he accepts this'.

Judge Brennan said he would deal with it 'as an isolated incident' but told Markey: 'it's not your business. I'm not saying you have no right to be there; whether you have or not is another issue'. He applied the probation act and dismissed the charge.

The Argus