SF election worker who robbed pensioner committed ‘appalling crime’ – Ó Broin

Sean Fitzgerald sentenced to nine months in prison for incident during election campaign

An incident where a Sinn Féin election worker robbed a pensioner has been described as “an appalling crime” by one of the party’s senior TDs.

Eoin Ó Broin made the remarks as he defended the party’s efforts to ensure people who work with it “have good standing”.

Sean Fitzgerald (34) of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12, was on Monday given a nine-month prison sentence for robbing a chronically ill pensioner while hanging campaign posters in Dublin.

Fitzgerald was carrying Mary Lou McDonald posters when he got into a row with motorist William Ryan (78) at Cromwellsfort Road, Walkinstown, on January 29th, 2020.

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Dublin District Court heard he hit Mr Ryan’s car with his step ladder, sat into the pensioner’s front passenger seat, filmed him and tried to stop him calling gardaí.

The trial heard the victim, who has breathing difficulties, was knocked over a wall into a garden. Fitzgerald sat on his chest and told him, “you won’t be needing these anymore”, before taking his phone and car keys.

Fitzgerald, who had 23 prior criminal convictions, pleaded not guilty to the robbery but was convicted.

Mr Ó Broin was asked about Sinn Féin’s vetting procedures during a press conference at Leinster House.

He said: “First of all, let me just say it was an appalling crime. I think we’re all very pleased that the individual has been convicted and sentenced.”

The Dublin Mid-West TD added: “It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re a party member, if you’re party supporter or if you’re just getting involved in election activity, nobody is above the law and therefore we welcome the conviction.”

He said he was “not so sure” how party members can be vetted, saying: “We don’t have access to Garda vetting, for example, those kinds of procedures.

“Obviously, we try to ensure when people are active in the party that people have good standing. But if anybody like this breaks the law they should be prosecuted and sentenced and that’s happened in this occasion and I welcome that.”