An ex-business man who quarrelled with bouncers at a city centre nightclub over the perceived dangers and permission to erect barriers on a public footpath denied shouting threats and pointing his fingers aggressively, saying he was simply remonstrating.
The Galway District Court heard on Monday how Thomas Ryan had attracted the ire of bouncers after he tried to move a barrier out of his way and then attempted to enquire if they had permission for the obstruction. The hearing was also told that the 63-year-old had been so aggressive towards the bouncers that passing gardai had to intervene.
However, after hearing the evidence Judge Mary Fahy dismissed the charges of threatening and abusive behaviour and failing to obey garda orders on the grounds that there was insufficient garda evidence. Ryan, of 15 St Bridget’s Terrace, Bohermore, had denied all the charges brought against him and was then given the benefit of the Probation Act Section 1(1 ) for failing to give gardai a name when directed to do so at Eyre Square on July 10, 2010.
At the hearing Sgt Ann Boland gave evidence that she had been passing in a patrol car when she noticed an altercation taking place between a man and security personnel from a nearby nightclub. The patrol car turned around and one of the security men asked for assistance in the matter. Sgt Boland said that she attempted to talk to Ryan who was very abusive. “He was standing in the bouncer’s face, with the barrier between them, and he kept pointing his finger in his face and shouting... I positioned myself between him and the bouncer and he continued shouting over my head, saying he was going to sort the bouncers out,” said Sgt Boland, who added that despite numerous warnings Ryan refused to give her his name and was subsequently arrested.
During cross-examination defence solicitor Brian Gilmartin pointed out that much of what was said in court contradicted the statements he had received.
Regarding the alledged threatening behaviour Judge Fahy noted that it “can be at the lower end of the scale or can be a serious threat”. However, she added that there was not sufficient evidence presented by the State except in relation to one charge, that of refusing to give a name.
When Ryan took the stand he said he had been out socialising earlier that night and had been walking home at around 11.30pm when he found himself close to a wall, inside a barrier, on Williamgate Street. He explained that the barrier had been un-manned so he picked it up and moved it to the side and off the footpath. Two bouncers then approached and told him to leave the barrier alone and to mind his own business. Another bouncer then came along and told Ryan to “piss off”. Ryan said that the bouncers placed the barrier back where it was and he asked them if they had permission to do that, to have such an obstruction in a public area 40 metres away from the entrance to the nightclub. “I said that I will check it out with City Hall. If I was waving my hands I would be pointing at the barrier. I was talking. He [a bouncer] said to me to piss off again. I do use my hands when I am speaking to people, I was not pointing my finger in anyone’s face,” he said.
Under questioning by Inspector Sean Glynn, Ryan said that he had been “remonstrating”, that he had been nowhere near the bouncer when the guards arrived. When Judge Fahy enquired about Ryan’s interest in planning matters he said that he had been involved in the licensed trade and that his business had folded a few years ago.
Judge Fahy noted that if Ryan had just simply given his name he would probably not be in court.
“If that barrier was not there I wouldn’t be here,” he replied.
“Twelve at night is not the time to get involved [in issues of obstruction in public areas],” said Judge Fahy before dismissing two charges and applying the Probation Act Section 1(1 ).