A former Senator appeared in court today charged with a number of offences including drink driving and dangerous driving as a music festival was taking place nearby, writes Joe Leogue.
James Heffernan (aged 36), who lost his seat in the Seanad last April, appeared before Judge Brian Sheridan at Fermoy District Court facing five charges in total, all of which allegedly took place in Mitchelstown, Co Cork on Monday, August 1 last.
He is charged with dangerous driving at Coolenave, Mitchelstown, and with the same offence again, along with drink driving, driving without insurance and driving without a licence on the Limerick Road.
The alleged offences took place near where the Indiependence Music Festival was taking place at the time at Deer Farm, Coolenave.
Giving evidence of arrest, charge, and caution, Garda Dave Delea told the court that he stopped the car Mr Heffernan was driving at approximately 8.50am on the morning in question on the Limerick Road, and conveyed him to Fermoy Garda Station.
The accused gave his name as Seamas O’Heifearnain, gave his address as Baile an Lina, Cill Fhíonáin, Limerick (Ballinlyna, Kilfinane, Co Limerick), and made no reply to the charges, the court heard.
Today in court Mr Heffernan spoke only to inform the judge that he was representing himself, but is seeking a solicitor, and to seek disclosure of the prosecution’s documents on the case.
Judge Sheridan advised Mr Heffernan to seek the services of a solicitor.
He granted Inspector Eoin Healy’s application to have the matter adjourned until October 7 next for either a plea or to fix a date for a hearing if Mr Heffernan is to contest the charges.
A qualified primary school teacher, Mr Heffernan was formerly a member of the Labour Party during his terms on Limerick County Council and the Seanad, where he was elected onto the Agricultural Panel in 2011.
After losing the Labour whip, Mr Heffernan contested the recent General Election for the Social Democrats, running in the Limerick constituency where he polled 3,270 votes and was eliminated on the fifth count.