A court has heard that two cousins turned up to a funeral armed with machetes and wearing bullet-proof vests.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Carroll Moran imposed three-year suspended jail terms on Peter McDonagh, aged 20, of Nash’s Boreen, Knocknaheeny, Cork, and on Bernie McDonagh, aged 28, of Brocklesby St, Blackpool, Cork for the illegal possession of weapon offences on Mar 25, 2012.
Judge Moran also banned the two from entering Co Clare.
Judge Moran said that “the presence of the gardaí at the graveyard avoided the situation getting out of hand and people suffering catastrophic injuries”.
Outlining the background to the case, state counsel, Stephen Coughlan BL said gardaí went to Drumcliffe graveyard in Ennis for the funeral of Peter McDonagh’s grand aunt and Bernie McDonagh’s grandmother. It was attended by families involved in a feud at the time.
Det Garda Stephen Hession said the two McDonaghs were part of a group walking towards the grave-side party and were wearing woolly hats on their heads to hide their identities. Garda Hession said that the two McDonaghs broke away from the group and dropped their machetes. They were both found to be wearing bullet proof vests
Pat Whyms BL said his client, Peter McDonagh, had the weapon and was wearing the bullet-proof vest as a defensive measure.
Mr Whyms said that shortly before the funeral in March, Jim McDonagh, a brother of Peter McDonagh, had a finger cut off as a result of an assault.
Mr Whyms said that Jim McDonagh’s finger was severed with a machete by members of another family at a funeral in the same graveyard just a short time before this funeral.
Det Garda Hession said that he could not say they were defensive as nobody was antagonising them on the day and they were making their way towards the funeral party. Garda Hession said members of the family that were responsible for the finger assault were located at the graveside.
Mr Whyms said: “The McDonaghs were the victims of the only recorded attack in the dispute between the two families.” Mr Whyms said that his client had a well-founded fear about what might occur at the graveyard and this is backed up by the presence of the Gardai on the day. Judge Moran said that he would impose a three year jail term and suspend it for three years on the two ordering them to stay out of Co Clare during that time. Judge Moran noted that both men had pleaded guilty and had stayed out of trouble since. He said: “You two are lucky you are not going to jail.”
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