46 charged over riot in Mullingar


FORTY FIVE men and one woman have appeared before a special sitting of Mullingar District Court charged with violent disorder.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has directed trial on indictment in each case for the offence, which on conviction carries a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

A number of men were also charged under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act with possession of a variety of implements including a golf club, a sword and a shovel.

All defendants were charged in relation to a single occasion on July 29th last when what gardaí describe as “large-scale public order disturbances” took place at Dalton Park, a housing estate in Mullingar.

Gardaí­ from the Westmeath division, supported by gardaí from the Operational Support Unit (Dog and Air Support Units), arrested the majority of those before the court early yesterday morning.

Almost €50,000 in cash sureties was presented to the court and all of those charged were released on bail by Judge John Neilan.

Among those present were over 20 members of the Nevin family, nine Dinnegans, and eight McDonaghs. Martin Nevin, St Anthony’s Cottage, was charged with possession of a golf club, while Michael Nevin of the same address was charged with possession of a shovel.

The court heard that when Noel Moore of Dalton Park was charged his response was “who’s to protect ourselves only ourselves?”

Judge Neilan described the offences before the court as “very serious” and said he was reluctant to advance any bail to Anthony Dinnegan of Macetown, Cloughan, Mullingar, who was charged with criminal damage and possession of a weapon as well as violent disorder.

In the case of Martina Giff and her partner Seán Dinnegan, he imposed a bail payment of €250 following a request from their solicitor saying that they were anxious about being able to meet the costs of their daughter’s communion in May.

The majority of the defendants were granted bail when they met an independent cash surety requirement of €1,000. Six men and one woman were granted lower sureties on the basis of submissions from their solicitors regarding their circumstances.

Two other defendants who face similar charges of violent disorder in connection with a separate incident were granted bail with an independent surety of €6,000 and their own surety of €3,000, with one third cash to be lodged in each case. The majority of the defendants were granted legal aid.

Strict bail conditions were applied, including a ban on entering certain estates in Mullingar and from entering all licensed premises in the State.

The defendants must also sign on twice weekly at their local Garda station and are prohibited from gathering in public in groups of more than two.

Apart from one Dublin resident, all live in Mullingar and are mostly obliged to observe a curfew between 8pm and 8am.

Judge Neilan relaxed the conditions for Martina Giff of Dalton Park, a mother of four who is expecting her fifth child, saying she should not be prevented from accessing any care she might need.

In a comment which was not directed specifically at the disturbances, the judge said it was “an appalling indictment and an abuse of children” to see the abuse of alcohol arising out of celebrations of the sacraments. He said members of the clergy on the pulpit should say “it’s not acceptable, it’s gone overboard”.

He added he was “sick and tired and fed up” of seeing people before the court, charged with behaviour arising out of weddings, christenings and communions.

There was a considerable Garda presence with up to 70 members at the courthouse. Members of the Dog Unit and a helicopter were also present as the defendants, who were in custody, were accompanied into the building.

They are to appear before a further special sitting of Mullingar District Court on Monday, February 16th.