Saturday 16 December 2017

Man tries to get bail curfew lifted

THE DUNDALK man behind the Save Our Town Facebook page had an application to vary his bail adjourned after gardaí objected to the lifting of a curfew that was set as part of his bail conditions.

Harry Taaffe (52), O'Hanlon Park, is charged with causing criminal damage to the windows of a house and to a car at the same property in Dundalk on January 13. It is alleged the total damage is €3,000.

He is also charged with threatening or abusive behaviour and assault of a man at Market Square on February 5.

The gardaí set bail conditions, including that he keep away from the alleged injured party, observe a curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and sign on once a week at Dundalk Garda station.

But he was back before the district court last Wednesday where he made an application to have his bail varied so that he could attend Dundalk FC games where he films the action.

Solicitor James MacGuill said Mr. Taaffe has no previous convictions and has never been in trouble before, but the curfew is difficult for him because he films Dundalk matches for the club and he can't get back from many away games in time for 11 p.m.

Mr. MacGuill said there is a game in Sligo on Tuesday evening that his client wouldn't be back earlier than 2 a.m. from.

But Inspector Martin Beggy said it is 'not just football matches he videos' and said Mr Taaffe runs a 'citizens' patrol' and films 'activity around the place'.

Mr. Taaffe said he had set up Save Our Town on Facebook so that 'if people felt vulnerable in their houses...and if they couldn't get in contact with gardaí, we would go down and wait for the gardaí'.

Inspector Beggy said gardaí have a concern about what is happening as the 'patrol' members have flourescent jackets and walk-talkies with them and said gardaí were also worried about how matters would be dealt with if the patrols come across something.

Mr. Taaffe said he had 'done nothing to bring on a curfew' and the charges relate to allegations that have been made.

Judge Brennan was shown a screen shot of the Facebook page on a garda's mobile phone. Mr. MacGuill pointed out the page also tells the public criminals will not be confronted but they should get in touch with the gardaí.

He said his client was willing to give an undertaking to the court not to go on patrols if the curfew is lifted. Inspector Beggy said he would have no objection to Mr. Taaffe travelling to Dundalk away games and being back late, but only if a club official comes to court to say that he is officially engaged by them in filming the matches.

The case was adjourned to Drogheda Court on Friday where Mr. Taaffe's solicitor asked for, and was granted, a further adjournment to this (Wednesday) morning with no order made.

The Argus

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