Strange goings on in Mullingar Court House

If Lt Horatio Caine of the CSI Miami crime lab had been there, he would have taken off his glasses, raised an eyebrow at Superintendent John Gantly, and said in that gravelly voice of his “Nice one”.

And then he would have been searched as he made his way into Mullingar Courthouse.

He would have stood back in wonder at the scores of gardaí escorting dozens of defendants through the doors, cast a satisfied glance at the whirring helicopter overhead, and taken a step back from the determined-looking Garda alsatian.

Inside, he’d notice that they do things differently in Miami than Mullingar, where a whole town has been waiting and wondering when action would be taken against a group of people who put the Westmeath town on television screens for all the wrong reasons last July.

And he’d sit down on the rather uncomfortable wooden seats that everyone but the press gets, and watch as the spectacle unfolded, making sure to escape the gaze of surly sergeants in stab vests.

There were over 70 gardaí on the job, with more in strategically located Public Order patrol vehicles.

Some 45 men and one woman, most members of the travelling community, appeared before Judge John Neilan charged with violent disorder arising out of the Dalton Park riot in the summer. If convicted they face sentences of up to 10 years.

At the moment, every one of them is innocent until proven guilty. It’s important to remember that.

The majority had been arrested in a series of pre-dawn swoops carried out by Gardaí, and members of the Dog Unit, supported by the Air Patrol Unit.

Anyone who doubted Garda seriousness in responding to the riot would have seen those doubts firmly put to bed watching what was a highly co-ordinated, major logistical operation.

All the protocols were observed. A hot meal was provided in the middle of the day for those still in custody, a doctor was available to the Gardaí all day, ready to respond to the needs of any prisoner who expressed need for medical care.

While some of the defendants have already been charged with public order offences, DPP directions were required for these prosecutions and there are more to follow. These things take time to do properly and the first court appearance after being charged is only one of the first steps,

And as the sun went down Lt Horatio Caine would have cast an admiring glance back at the men and women who’d been up since before dawn rounding up defendants.

He’d nod in support of co-ordinating Sergeant Kieran Williams, Inspector Jarlath Folan, and Superintendent John Gantly.

He’d look straight in the eye of any man or individual who might belligerently tell a national TV station that he owned Mullingar and, putting on his shades he’d shake his head and say, “I’m not so sure about that” before he walked into the wild blue yonder.


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