Horse trader gets four years for part in mass brawl at Smithfield fair


A HORSE trader involved in a mass brawl at the Smithfield horse fair during which two people were shot has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Patrick O’Reilly (44), no fixed abode, was charged with violent disorder after he was photographed by journalists wielding a stick during the fight between two Traveller family factions. A third victim was seriously injured when his arm was nearly severed with a machete.

O’Reilly, who had 75 previous convictions, was seen in the same group as the machete-wielding man and another man armed with a home-made shotgun. He has been in custody since the incident.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed a six-year term with the final two years suspended, taking account of O’Reilly’s guilty plea.

The father of nine pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at Smithfield Plaza on March 6th, 2011.

Det Garda Michael Conlon told prosecuting counsel Michael Bowman that the monthly horse fair attracted between 4,000 and 4,500 people including traders, tourists and journalists. Members of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Garda were also there.

Members of the Quilligan and O’Reilly families were involved in a feud with the McInerney and Donoghue families and members of both factions were also at the fair buying and selling horses.

A member of the McInerney family said he saw a group of people including O’Reilly running at them. He said the group then stopped and stepped to the side, allowing a man behind them to open fire with a “pipe”, hitting one man in the hip. This “pipe” was later recovered and found to be a home-made shotgun.

Another witness saw O’Reilly armed with a stick alongside a man wielding a machete. This man struck the arm of another man, leaving it “swinging”.

Further up the plaza another victim was shot with a Webley .22 revolver. This was later recovered at the Oliver Bond flats in the city centre.

O’Reilly, who is also known as “Pa”, was arrested afterwards but gave a false name. He was interviewed several times and made no admissions. Det Garda Conlon said O’Reilly had spent about half his life in prison, including a 12½-year sentence for a burglary, false imprisonment and other related offences.

Defence counsel Seán Gillane SC said O’Reilly was not armed with anything other than a stick that day and was at the less serious end of the violence. He said he had since tried to be a role model to younger Travellers and had been successfully engaged in making peace with the other Traveller clans.

Mr Gillane added that with O’Reilly in custody his wife had to care for their children on her own, including one with severe developmental difficulties.