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Ó Neachtain dismayed by arson case reports

THE regional manager of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Éamon Ó Neachtain, was dismayed by some media reports relating to a High Court case held in Donegal last week where it was alleged that he was one of a group of arsonists who torched a building on Tory Island in the 1990s.

The case was taken by Neville Presho against Tory Island hotelier Patrick Doohan, alleging Mr Doohan had delmolished his house while he was in New Zealand. The court was told that the house had been destroyed by fire in January 1993.

Mr Presho had alleged in court that Mr Ó Neachtain, who was working for a Tory island cooperative at the time, was one of a group of arsonists who burned down his house.

While he was not a defendant in the case Mr Ó Neachtain attended the court to clear his name and deny any involvement in the matter.

However, he was shocked by subsequent media reports which focused on his denial and he issued the following statement to The Kerryman this week.

"I would like to clarify my role in the High Court proceedings in Letterkenny last week in relation to a case taken by Mr. Presho against the owner of Óstán Oileán Thoraigh, Mr. Patrick Doohan.

"I had been made aware that my name was mentioned in the pleadings to the case and on legal advice and as a result I decided to attend the case to ensure that I would be in a position to clarify any issues which related to me, or to my then emp loyers , Comharchumann Oileán Thoraigh," the statement said.

"I was not a party to the dispute, nor a defendant. The fact of the proceedings came to my notice days before the trial and I was given an indication that my name was mentioned in the pleadings filed. I was not a material witness for either side in the case.

" I attended of my own volition at the Court and not in answer to a Summons. I was not represented. I requested to be called as a witness to state that I was not involved in the destruction of this building in anyway," the statement continued.

"I now find myself in the invidious position where my simple denial of any involvement in the case is given such prominence in the media coverage that the general public could be forgiven for thinking that I was centrally involved rather than having a marginal involvement in it. In fact my denial of any involvement became the leading item in much of the media coverage of the case,".

" All parties at the proceedings accepted, without reservation, that I was not involved in any way with the matter before the court and it was accepted by the Plaintiff, and the Court, that I had no involvement whatsoever in the destruction of this building.

" The manner in which some elements of the media has covered my involvement in the case is very disappointing and has been a cause of great upset and concern for myself and my family," Mr Ó Neachtain stated.

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