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Saturday 14 December 2019

Sinn Fein TD's drunk son 'spat out at' garda after taxi fare dispute

Fearghal O Snodaigh (pictured), son of TD Aengus O Snodaigh became aggressive and heavily resisted arrest
Fearghal O Snodaigh (pictured), son of TD Aengus O Snodaigh became aggressive and heavily resisted arrest

A son of Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh spat at one garda and "squared up" threateningly to another when he was arrested after a dispute over a taxi fare.

Fearghal O Snodaigh (24) became aggressive and heavily resisted arrest in a drunken episode at a north Dublin garda station, a court heard.

Judge Ann Ryan described his behaviour as "utterly unacceptable" but said she would strike the case out, leaving him without a criminal record, if he takes part in a restorative justice programme.

Dublin South Central TD Aengus O Snodaigh and his wife Aisling Ni Dhalaigh were both in court to support their son, along with his fiancee.

Threatening

Fearghal O Snodaigh, of Naas Road, Dublin 8, admitted assaulting Garda Niall Carolan at Ballymun Garda Station by spitting at him.

He also pleaded guilty to obstructing Gda Carolan and using threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour in the incident on February 28, last year.

He had initially denied the charges and the case had been due to go to trial in the non-jury Dublin District Court. However, yesterday he changed his plea to guilty.

Garda Sergeant Damian Beakey said O Snodaigh entered the garda station with a taxi driver and there was an issue over a disputed fare.

The accused was extremely intoxicated and "aggressive with gardai from the start", Sgt Beakey said.

He "squared up to" one garda in a threatening manner and "resisted heavily" as he was restrained and arrested.

O Snodaigh was brought into the custody foyer, where he refused to co-operate and give his personal details.

He was immediately brought to a cell where his aggression continued. He refused to take off his belt and "spat out at" Gda Carolan, Sgt Beakey said.

The gardai managed to search the accused and placed him in the cell.

He was charged and released into the custody of his father.

Sgt Beakey agreed with defence barrister Emer Ni Chuagain that O Snodaigh, who had no previous convictions, was unlikely to come before the courts again.

The accused had €500 to donate to charity in court and the gardai nominated the stillbirth association Feileacain.

Ms Ni Chuagain submitted medical documentation setting out a "context" to the offences, which happened after a "difficult incident" which O Snodaigh was struggling to deal with.

Testimonials were also given to the court that "speak to the type of man that he is".

"He is genuinely very sorry about the incident," Ms Ni Chuagain said, adding that it was "out of character".

Alcohol was a factor and the accused would not normally drink as much as he did on the night, she said. He had since reduced his consumption "significantly".

Masters

The accused has a degree from DIT and was studying for a Masters at Trinity College. He planned to go to the US on a graduate visa.

O Snodaigh had good employment prospects and criminal convictions would have a detrimental effect on that, Ms Ni Chuagain said. He was also committed to charitable work.

"You are obviously a very bright young man with a very good future ahead of you," Judge Ryan told O Snodaigh.

"The incident itself was appalling and your behaviour was completely and utterly unacceptable."

The judge said restorative justice would give him time to reflect on his behaviour and its effects. She adjourned the case to next February.

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