St Patrick’s Day brawlers in court

NINE Portlaoise men involved in a violent drunken row in the town’s Top Square on St Patrick’s Day appeared before the recent District Court.

NINE Portlaoise men involved in a violent drunken row in the town’s Top Square on St Patrick’s Day appeared before the recent District Court.

Craig Dollard, 9 Mountain View Square; Daniel Houlihan, 12 Parnell Crescent; John Houlihan, 15 Mountain View; and Paul Kelly, 8 Green Road, Mountmellick Road, were all charged with violent disorder and assault causing harm. Dollard also faces a charge of production of an implement during a dispute.

Owen Connolly, 3 Oak Lawn; Niall Connolly, 3 Oak Lawn; Jason Murphy, 16 Lakeglen; Richard O’Shea, 7 Gandon Close, Fairgreen Village; and Gary Holohan, 12 Clonmine Close, Bellingham, were all charged with violent disorder.

The men had previously been released on bail with conditions that they were to abstain from alcohol and keep out of licenced premises in Portlaoise. At last week’s court, Sergeant Jeremiah Kirby gave evidence that Niall Connolly had breached his bail conditions on two separate occasions.

Sgt Kirby said that Connolly had been arrested in Ennis on May 6 at 5am and issued with an on the spot fine for being intoxicated in a public place. There was a further incident in Kildare on July 8, when Connolly was arrested at 1.30am for fighting, although no charges were brought against him. Sgt Kirby said these were minor breaches of his bail.

“I know him and I haven’t seen sight of him in Portlaoise,” said Sgt Kirby. “These are minor breaches of his bail, I won’t look for him to be remanded in custody.”

“He breached his bail twice, he was drinking, and that’s not serious?” remarked Judge Catherine Staines. “What is the purpose of bail conditions?”

Defence for Connolly, as for all the men, was Ms Josephine Fitzpatrick. Ms Fitzpatrick acknowledged this was a serious matter and the court must have grave concerns. She said Connolly had since been on an alcohol awareness course and his father was present with him in court.

Mr Tony Connolly addressed Judge Staines. The judge asked him why his son had been brought to the function in Ennis. Mr Connolly replied that it had been a relative’s 90th birthday and he admitted he had been in error requesting his son’s attendance.

Warning Niall Connolly that he was very close to going to prison, Judge Staines said: “You have got to stop drinking. You’re going to ruin your life and the life of those around you.”

All matters were put back to October 4, for the preparation of a book of evidence on all defendants.