Man charged with violent disorder over Strokestown eviction
Suspect appears in court following organised attack on KBC Bank eviction group
An organised attack on a KBC bank eviction party on December 16th at the McGann family home in Falsk, Strokestown, triggered the Garda inquiry. File photograph: Brian Farrell
A 53-year-old Donegal man has been remanded in custody to appear before Harristown District Court on January 18th charged with violent disorder during an eviction at a farm in Falsk, near Strokestown, Co Roscommon, last month.
An application for bail was refused by Judge Deirdre Gearty at a special sitting of Roscommon District Court this evening over what gardaí described as “potential witness intimidation”.
The accused, PJ Sweeney of High Cairn, Ramelton, was charged with violent disorder on December 16th last at a house where the McGann family had been evicted from their home some days earlier.
Evidence of arrest, charge and caution was given by Sgt Maura McGarry of Boyle Garda station who said she arrested the accused at Castlerea Garda station on Saturday and subsequently charged him. The accused made no reply to the charge.
The accused’s solicitor, Alan Gannon, said his client had no previous convictions other than an offence under the licensing laws dating back to 2010.
Mr Gannon said his client would be pleading not guilty to the single charge against him. The court was told the accused is in a long-term relationship with his partner and is the father of five children, ranging in age from 11 to 30 years of age and has one grandchild.
Mr Gannon said Mr Sweeney is bankrupt, has no bank accounts and is not a flight risk. And he “strongly objected” to his client being remanded in custody.
The accused’s solicitor said his client was willing to surrender his travel documents and sign on at either Milford or Letterkenny Garda stations. The accused told the court he was unemployed at present but due to start a new job “in two weeks’ time”.
Remanding Mr Sweeney in custody, the judge said that although the accused enjoyed the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, she was satisfied the charge before the court was a very serious one, carrying a serious penalty.
She said her main worry was Garda concerns over the potential intimidation of witnesses which she noted the accused “had not dealt with” while in the witness box.
An application for legal aid was granted by the judge.