The case was heard at Athy District Court
Members of two feuding families who came before Athy District Court last Tuesday, February 27, were given prison sentences after they engaged in a public dispute at a local housing estate.
The case of a father and three siblings, who were all involved in an dispute with four other family members that lasted two hours, was before Athy District Court last week.
The cases of Daniel Foley, of 20 Castlepark, Athy; Tommy O’Connell, of 1317 Towns Park, Athy; Danny O’Connell, of 21 The Harbour, Athy; and Jessie O’Connell, of 21 The Harbour, Athy, were before the court, alongside four co-accused in the case, Joseph Brennan of 38 Castlepark, Athy; Charlene Brennan of 32 Greenhills, Athy; Dylan Brennan of 38 Castlepark, Athy, and Noel Kelly of 11 Canal Walk, Athy.
They first came the attention of the gardai in the early hours of Saturday morning, September 10, 2016, after a dispute between the two families got out of hand at Castlepark in Athy.
They were all charged with threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour in public. They all pleaded guilty.
The incident started late on Friday night, September 9, 2016 at Castlepark, Athy, and went on until the early hours of Saturday morning, when it spilled out into the square of the housing estate. The court heard it took two hours for gardai to calm the dispute.
Evidence was given in court by Det Niall Bambrick from Athy Garda Station. He told the court that the dispute involving the two families could easily have turned into a riot Both families had been at a party together the night before and the court heard that a lot of drink had been taken.
Gardai had to request back up during the incident after abuse was shouted at them and the row flared back up again after a temporary lapse.
“It happened so fast,” said Det Bambrick. “It was between the two families and Mr Noel Kelly, who left the scene and came back. It got very violent very fast.
“In the end there was a large garda presence required at the scene. It was a situation that could have easily evolved into a complete riot. All the neighbours came out to watch the unfolding events.”
Judge Desmond Zaidan said that it was all because of excessive drinking. “It is just awful,” he said.
Jackie McManus, the solicitor for Danny Foley, Daniel O'Connelll and Jessie O’Connell, told the court that both families have shaken hands and “everyone is friendly again”.
The solicitor for the Brennan family, Toss Quinn agreed that both families have since made up. Eoin O’Connorl, for Noel Kelly, said that in the circumstances “blood is thicker than water”.
The court heard that all the defendants had varying degrees of previous convictions, except for Dylan Brennan (19).
Daniel O’Connell (26) told the court that he is attending treatment for drug abuse and was due to meet with his drug counselor that day. He is a father of three with a baby on the way in May.
“I want to see my baby been born in May,” he said. “I want to get off drugs for good.”
Judge Desmond Zaidan said the incident was pure thuggery. “There was abuse from both sides,” said Judge Zaidan
“All of this was totally senseless — pure thuggery — fuelled by drink and illicit substances. Gardai exhausted much of the resources they had in the county to try and bring this to an end.
“This type of behaviour can not be tolerated, especially in residential areas — you will all pay a price.”
Noel Kelly, who is currently serving a prison sentence, was given three months for public order and an additional three months for failing to comply with gardai.
Danny Foley was given three months for public order. Jessie O’ Connell was given three months for public order. Daniel O’Connell was given three months for public order. Joseph Brennan was given two months for public order.
Charlene Brennan was given two months for public order and Dylan Brennan was given 14 days in custody for public order.
The case of Tommy O'Connell, who was not present at the court hearing, was adjourned until March 13.