Eight men charged in St Patrick’s day brawl

EIGHT men involved in the vicious brawl on St Patrick’s Day in the town’s Top Square were warned not to drink and stay away from Portlaoise’s Main St when they appeared before last week’s District Court

EIGHT men involved in the vicious brawl on St Patrick’s Day in the town’s Top Square were warned not to drink and stay away from Portlaoise’s Main St when they appeared before last week’s District Court

Gardai warned Judge Catherine Staines that the men, who are all Portlaoise natives, could pose serious concerns to public safety if they drink alcohol on the streets of the town again.

Daniel Houlihan, 12 Parnell Crescent, Craig Dollard, 9 Mountainview Sq, Paul Kelly, 8 Green Rd, Mountmellick Rd, Niall Connolly, 3 Oaklawn, Ballyfin Rd, Owen Connolly, 3 Oaklawn, Ballyfin Rd, Gary Holohan, 12 Clonmine Close, Bellingham, John Houlihan, 15 Mountainview and Richard O’Shea, 7 Gandon Close, Fairgreen were all charged with violent disorder at Market Square, Portlaoise, on Saturday, March 17.

Inspector Martin Harrington told the court that there may be further charges to come and he requested a curfew be imposed on the men, from 8pm to 7am.

Outlining the conditions of bail, the inspector initially asked Judge Catherine Staines to rule that the men must stay out of all licensed premises in the Portlaoise area, but the judge said that she did not wish to “transport the problem” to another part of the county and she instead warned the men to stay away from all licensed premises and abstain from alcohol. They must also keep away from Portlaoise Main Street.

Inspector Harrington told the judge that witnesses are currently being sought in the case and CCTV footage is being studied.

“We would have serious concerns for public safety if bail conditions are breached,” he said.

Two of the men were allowed to vary their conditions, with Owen Connolly’s curfew extended to midnight three days a week to allow him to visit his daughter in Dublin and he is also permitted to enter Portlaoise one morning a week to collect methadone.

John Houlihan has been given a curfew of 9pm to 5am to facilitate his working hours, although it was a concession that gardaí said they were reluctant to grant as Houlihan was described as being “probably the main aggressor”.

Solicitor for the men is Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick and legal aid was granted, although Judge Staines remarked that the men seemed to have plenty of money for drink on the night in question.

The matter has now gone back to May 17, with Judge Staines warning that these are very serious charges which could end up in the Circuit Court.