Thursday 18 January 2018

Ex-Labour senator is charged with drink-driving after music festival

James Heffernan
James Heffernan

A former senator is facing two charges of dangerous driving and one of drink-driving after attending a Cork music festival.

James Heffernan (36), identified in court as Seamus O'Heifearnain, was charged before Fermoy District Court with a total of five counts.

These include two of dangerous driving, one of driving while over the alcohol limit, one of driving without correct insurance and one of driving without a valid licence last August 1.

The charges involve locations at the Limerick Road and Coolnanave areas of Mitchelstown in north Cork.

Gda Dave Delea, who gave evidence of arrest, caution and charge, told Judge Brian Sheridan that Mr Heffernan made no reply when the charges were formally put to him.

Mr Heffernan, who was taking notes during the hearing, briefly addressed the court.

"I am representing myself here today," he said. "I am in the process of engaging a solicitor.

"I will be seeking details of all documents for disclosure."

However, Judge Sheridan said these were technical matters more suited for another date in the hearing.

He adjourned the matter until October 7 when he said the issue of a plea and defence can be dealt with.


Judge Sheridan advised Mr Heffernan about the importance of legal representation given the charges involved.

"I will be consulting a solicitor," he said.

The charges relate to a date on which the Indiependence music and arts festival was taking place in Mitchelstown.

The annual three-day event is one of the most successful arts and music events staged outside of Dublin.

It is held on a farm complex just outside the town.

Mr Heffernan, of Baile na Lyna, Kilfinane, Co Limerick, was elected as a Labour Party senator to the 24th Seanad.

He had unsuccessfully contested the 2007 and 2011 general elections in Limerick County for the Labour Party.

He is a graduate of the University of Limerick and a qualified primary school teacher.

Mr Heffernan taught at schools in the UK and in Ireland, including a school in Mitchelstown.

He is also a former member of Limerick County Council.

The former senator lost the Labour whip after he voted against the Fine Gael-Labour government over his opposition to elements contained within the 2012 Social Welfare Bill.

He subsequently became involved with the Social Democrats.

He contested last February's general election but, despite attracting more than 3,000 votes, was not elected to the Dail.

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