Roscommon eviction trial: Defendant told gardaí things got out of hand

Paul Beirne (56) said things got out of hand, but he didn't know how.
Roscommon eviction trial: Defendant told gardaí things got out of hand

Declan Brennan

A man accused of taking part in a vigilante attack on security men at a repossessed farm in Co. Roscommon told gardaí that he organised people to go to the house to “take back the house peacefully”.

Paul Beirne (56) of Croghan, Boyle, Co Roscommon told gardaí in December 2018 that on the night of December 16th he drove a group of around 30 men to a repossessed rural property at Falsk, Co Roscommon and broke the front door down with a sledgehammer. He said things got out of hand, but he didn't know how.

It's the State's case that around 5am on December 16th, 2018, a group of approximately 30 men, some armed and some wearing balaclavas, arrived at the farmhouse just outside Strokestown, Co Roscommon and attacked four of the security guards present.

Patrick Sweeney (44) of High Cairn, Ramelton, Co Donegal; Martin O'Toole (58) of Stripe, Irishtown, Claremorris, Co Mayo; Beirne and David Lawlor (43) of Bailis Downs, Navan, have pleaded not guilty to 17 charges each at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Each man is separately charged with false imprisonment of and assault causing harm to four security personnel at Falsk on December 16th, 2018, aggravated burglary, arson of a car and three vans, criminal damage to a door of the house, violent disorder, robbery of a wristwatch from one security guard, finally, causing unnecessary suffering to an animal by causing or permitting an animal to be struck on the head.

Final garda interview

On Monday, the jury heard the details of the final of six garda interviews of Mr Beirne. During the first half of the interview the defendant said he didn't know who would have used his mobile phone to make a series of phone calls between 3am and 9am on the morning of December 16th, 2018, including a call to his wife.

The defendant already told gardaí in his early interviews that he was asleep at home on the night of December 15th, 2018, and he said his wife could corroborate this. He said he parked his cattle lorry before going to bed, and the vehicle was there when he woke on the morning of December 16th, 2018.

In his final interview, Mr Beirne he didn't know who was driving his cattle lorry when, according to Tachograph readings, the lorry was driven to the property at Falsk at around 5am where it allegedly remained for 14 minutes. He said he might have left the keys in the lorry.

Asked then was there a shotgun present at the incident in Falsk the defendant replied “no” and Detective Sergeant Martin Geraghty asked the Mr Bierne “were you there?” Mr Bierne replied: “I was there, yeah, no shotgun...categorically no shotgun”.

Asked “did anyone else have a firearm” he said “no firearm”, adding “there was no shotgun, that's all I'm saying”.

He then admitted that he had driven the cattle lorry, that he collected around 30 other men in it and they had gone to Falsk. He admitted he had made the phone-calls from his phone in the early hours of the morning.

He said some of these calls were to “check up on yer man”, Anthony McCann, the previous owner of the house who had been evicted five days earlier, to see if he was okay. He agreed that the other calls were in connection to organising people to go to Falsk “to take back the house peacefully”.

“I cannot describe it. It just went out of hand altogether. It just went out of control,” he said.

Asked how control was lost, Mr Beirne said: “I don't know I haven't a clue, it just got out of hand”. Asked if there was “someone in your group who inflamed things”, he said no.

He said he didn't assault anyone on the night but he did cause damage to the front door by driving it through with a sledgehammer.

Asked who else was there he told gardaí: “I couldn't tell you”. He said at around 5.20am he took people away in his lorry.

He agreed with gardaí that he had organised it and that it had taken “on a life of its own”.

The prosecution evidence concluded on Monday afternoon. The trial continues before Judge Martina Baxter in the absence of the jury until Thursday morning, when the jury is due to return.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Contact Us Cookie Policy Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions

© Evening Echo Ltd, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork. Registered in Ireland: 523713

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more