A former national politician appeared in court yesterday, charged with a number of offences, including drink driving and dangerous driving, close to where a weekend music festival had been taking place during the summer.

James Heffernan, aged 36, of Co Limerick, who lost his seat in the Seanad last April, appeared before Judge Brian Sheridan at Fermoy District Court.

He faces five charges in total, all of which allegedly took place in Mitchelstown, Co Cork on August 1.

He is charged with dangerous driving at Coolenave, Mitchelstown, along with a second charge of dangerous driving at the North Cork town’s Limerick Rd.

Further charges relating to the Limerick Rd include drink driving, driving without insurance, and driving without a licence.

The alleged offences occurred 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 he stopped the car that Mr Heffernan was driving at approximately 8.50am on the day in question on the Limerick Rd, and brought the accused to Fermoy Garda Station.

The accused gave his name as Seamas Ó Heifearnáin, gave his address as Baile an Lina, Cill Fhíonáin, Limerick (Ballinlyna, Kilfinane, Co Limerick) and made no reply to the charges, the court heard.

Yesterday, in court, Mr Heffernan spoke only to inform the judge that he was representing himself, but that he was seeking a solicitor, and to seek disclosure of the prosecution’s documents in 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 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 in the Seanad, where he had been elected onto the Agricultural Panel in 2011.

After losing the Labour whip, Mr Heffernan contested the general election last February for the Social Democrats.

He ran in the Limerick constituency, where he polled 3,270 votes, and he was eliminated on the fifth count.


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