Limerick councillor admits he drank and drove but charge dismissed

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

'It happened. We all makes mistakes': Cllr Walsh says he has learned his lesson
A LIMERICK county councillor has admitted that he was drinking and driving, after his case was dismissed due to a legal technicality.

A LIMERICK county councillor has admitted that he was drinking and driving, after his case was dismissed due to a legal technicality.

Fine Gael Cllr Leo Walsh, 63, of Lower Raheen, Ballyneety, contested the charge that he was drink driving in Ballyneety on October 3, 2011.

The case was due to go ahead to a full hearing, but due to a legal technicality regarding the address written by gardai on the summons sheet, and a number of proposed amendments, Judge Eugene O’Kelly dismissed it.

Speaking to the Limerick Leader after he walked free from court, he said: “I was under pressure for the past two years and I’m just delighted it’s over me. It’s very sad for my own family and I’m sorry it all came about. I’m relieved today.”

Asked if he would urge people not to drink and drink, he said: “It certainly would be my motto. Unfortunately that night there was a Cup in our local, there was a celebration. It happened. We all make mistakes, but never, ever, ever again.”

“The guards do an excellent job and they have to complimented. Drink driving cases are way down. It was just unfortunate the way it happened.”

Pressed as to whether he had a few drinks, Cllr Walsh replied: “Yes. There was a celebration, and the Cup was there.”

Sergeant Donal Cronin told Limerick District Court that he was applying to amend the address on the summons sheet from Knockea to Ballyogartha.

However, barrister Martin Dully said they understood from gardai on a previous date that the address should be changed to Lickadoon.

“At no stage in the evening on question had be travelled through the alleged location,” said Mr Dully.

“They’re not adjoining townlands. They are separated by a kilometer as the crow flies,” he added.

He said he was “aghast” to discover another location for the alleged offence being introduced on the day the hearing was due to go ahead.

Solicitor Adrian Frawley was called to the witness box, and told Judge O’Kelly that while he was not present in court for the last hearing, his colleague, solicitor Muiris Gavin, informed him that gardai were applying to change the address to Lickadoon, and he had written this on the files, which he produced in court.

Sgt Cronin said the arresting garda knew where he arrested him, “very close to Scart Cross”, but had an uncertainty regarding the townland, but said it didn’t “materially change the charge in any way.”

Dismissing the case, Judge O’Kelly said: “In ordinary circumstances, if this was the first or second day before the court, I could amend the summons, and would be entitled to amend it, but I have to look at the question of prejudice.”