Bingo catfight resolution postponed for a year

Two mothers who came to blows outside a bingo hall over the alleged sale of drugs between their sons had their case adjourned for a year to see if they could “bury the hatchet” and maintain the peace.

The court heard how Winnie Mongan (46 ), of Curragh Park, Ballinasloe, and Bridie Ward (39 ) of Canal Drive, Ballinasloe were both arrested after the altercation at 10pm on September 16 outside St Mary’s Hall on Northgate Street, Athlone after the weekly bingo.

Mongan, who was pleading not guilty, made a statement of complaint to gardaí that night, and supported this with photographs of scratches on her face.

Ward made a counter statement five weeks later, but with no such similar corroborating evidence.

When the case was called both women and their solicitors stood beside each other.

“Mr Carty, can you facilitate the court by going the other side [of the room]. I don’t want any further shemozzle,” said Judge Seamus Hughes to Ward’s solicitor, Mr Owen Carty.

The judge then learnt that there were no independent witnesses, “just photos and a medical report”.

When the judge asked Mr Carty what instructions he’d got as to why this fight started, he began by describing his client, but was stopped by the judge.

“I’m like Vincent Browne on the television. Will you answer my question? Why do you think this shemozzle happened?” he demanded.

Ward contended that Mongan’s son sold drugs to her son and “he nearly died that time, and the Mongan family showed no remorse”.

Mongan’s solicitor, Mr Padraig Quinn was quick to reassure the court that this “doesn’t have its origins in a family feud, nor is there a family feud on the counter”, and that previously they were friends.

“These two women don’t look like street fighters, but the difficulty is if it goes to a full fight I may convict both,” said the judge.

He then asked whether they could shake on it and put the issue behind them, which Ward was happy to do, but Mongan not.

“There’s something going on between the sons, and maybe you don’t want that dirty linen aired in public,” said the judge.

“I will accept a handshake and an apology if it is genuine, and she admits I didn’t lay a finger on her,” said Mongan.

‘If there’s peace, and the respect between you is maintained for a year I’ll strike out both charges,” offered the judge.

A handshake was initiated by Ward, but the judge noted: “There wasn’t much said there”.

“I strongly advise you to bury the hatchet, as the DPP says both of you are guilty,” said the judge before adjourning a final decision until January 14, 2015.


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