EIGHT men who were involved in a violent row in Portlaoise’s Top Square in St Patrick’s Day last year appeared before last week’s circuit court, where CCTV footage showed images of an assault which left the injured party with a broken jaw.
Before the court was Owen Connolly, 3 Oaklawn, Ballyfin Road; Craig Dollard, 9 Mountain View Square; Daniel Houlihan, 12 Parnell Crescent; Gary Holohan, 12 Clonmine Close, Bellingham; John Houlihan, 15 Mountain View; Paul Kelly, with addresses at 8 Green Rd, Mountmellick Rd, and 12 O’Moore Place, Portlaoise; Jason Murphy 16 Lakeglen; and Richard O’Shea, 7 Gandon Close, Fairgreen Village.
All eight pleaded guilty to violent disorder. Craig Dollard, John Houlihan, Daniel Houlihan and Paul Kelly also pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm.
Evidence was given by Sgt Jeremiah Kirby, who also provided a detailed commentary to accompany scenes of CCTV footage shown to the court.
Around 8pm on March 17, 2012, there was an incident in Lockey’s bar in the Top Square, between Daniel Houlihan and Mr Anthony Ryan. Both men squared up to each other, and Paul Kelly, who was with Houlihan, ran across the road to another licensed premises, where a number of other men were drinking. There, Kelly let it be known that Daniel Houlihan was in trouble.
By this time, Houlihan and Mr Ryan were on the street, along with Mr Ryan’s girlfriend and Owen Connolly. Kelly and the other men then ran across the road and met up with Mr Ryan.
At this point, what State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly described as “a big street brawl” began. Daniel Houlihan swung punches at Mr Ryan and the fight moved across the street. Paul Kelly was seen hitting out at Mr Ryan’s girlfriend, who was trying to protect her boyfriend. Craig Dollard and Jason Murphy were also hitting Mr Ryan. Mr Ryan was shoved against a car by Daniel Houlihan and fell to the ground with Houlihan on top of him, still hitting him.
Sgt Kirby said that it was his opinion that John Houlihan stepped in and attempted to stop the fight. However, Kelly then stomped on Mr Ryan on the ground. Owen Connolly and Kelly were then seen squaring up to one another, while both John Houlihan and Gary Holohan tried to stop the attack on Mr Ryan. By this stage, Mr Ryan was lying against a car and Daniel Houlihan had his shirt ripped off. Kelly took a run and kicked Mr Ryan on the ground, which led to Kelly and Connolly getting into a fight. Richard O’Shea entered the scene, as Kelly threw a punch at Connolly. Another man then started to fight with Kelly.
Craig Dollard smashed a bottle off the ground, before Jason Murphy intervened and stopped Dollard from proceeding with the broken bottle. Richard O’Shea intervened in the fight between Kelly and another man. At this point, the gardaí arrived.
Mr Ryan was taken to hospital, were he was found to have a broken jaw. He required three metal plates to his face and had his jaw wired shut for several weeks.
There was a second incident some 15 minutes later, when a man who had been present at the fight in the Top Square was headbutted and punched by John Houlihan on Main Street. During this incident, Craig Dollard was seen swinging a wild kick at the injured party on the ground. The kick did not connect.
All the men were arrested and made admissions at the garda station. Daniel Houlihan, who had his nose broken in the incident, described the brawl as “a bit of a show in the middle of the town”, while Gary Holohan admitted it was “a holy disgrace”.
Judge Tony Hunt adjourned all matters to October 15, for probation and community service reports. He said the incident had been a disgrace and all the men were skating on thin ice. He remarked that Craig Dollard and Paul Kelly were particular stand-outs, as the missed kick of Dollard’s against Mr Ryan could have seen him facing more serious charges.
The men were all released on bail, with conditions that they must stay away from alcohol and licenced premises, they must stay away from Portlaoise Main Street and they must adhere to a curfew of 8pm to 7am Thursday to Sunday.