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Journalist hit hotel woman for 'smirking'


Irish Times environment editor Frank McDonald told a court yesterday he hit a woman manager in a Temple Bar hotel when she smirked at a complaint he made about excessive noise.

"I hit her. I very much regret that and I apologised," he told Circuit Court President, Mr Matthew Deery.

McDonald told the Circuit Civil Court he has been engaged in a 15-year campaign against "intolerable noise" emanating from the River House Hotel including its Mezz Bar and Think Tank nightclub.

He said that at 2am one morning when he could not get to sleep because of the noise, he had gone to the hotel and complained to staff. He had been referred to a lady called Vera and had repeated his complaint.

"I complained I was not able to get to sleep and that it was 2am. She maintained a smirk on her face and asked what did I expect, it was a nightclub," he said.


He told his counsel Colm Mac Eochaidh: "I lost my cool and put my hands on each side of her head and shook her head briefly. I left and a bouncer ran after me. He put my hand behind my back and pinned me against the wall. He called to another bouncer. He forced me back to the entrance of the pub and accused me of assault and I immediately apologised."

McDonald said what he had done had been the result of having been unable to sleep. At one stage he felt his apartment would become uninhabitable because of the noise.

He said the situation had deteriorated to the point he felt he had no option but to object to hotel owner Frank Conway obtaining a dance and singing licence. He had done so in the District Court and had been astonished to discover the premises had been operating without a licence for two years.

Another local resident, university lecturer Richard Duckworth, said he had lived 24/7 with a sound nuisance in his apartment above the hotel. He had agreed to sell his apartment to Mr Conway's son, Nicholas, in a deal which included an agreement not to object to Mr Conway obtaining a licence.

Michael McDowell, who appeared with Ms Dorothy Collins for Mr Conway, told the court the hotel were granted a licence with undertakings attached which made it difficult for Mr Conway to trade.

He said he had spent around €80,000 on sound proofing his premises and joint sound tests had been carried out by the parties last week.

Mr McDowell said his client faced bankruptcy and asked Judge Deery to lift or vary two undertakings banning live music in the Mezz Bar and restricting court application for exemption orders.

Judge Deery said he would give his decision today.