Love Ulster protester jailed for petrol-bomb attacks

A 19-year-old man who set two gardaí alight by throwing petrol bombs during riots at the Love Ulster parade in Dublin last February has been jailed for five years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

A 19-year-old man who set two gardaí alight by throwing petrol bombs during riots at the Love Ulster parade in Dublin last February has been jailed for five years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Ciaran Maguire of Kippure Park, Finglas pleaded guilty to violent disorder and endangerment by throwing petrol bombs on O'Connell Street on February 25, 2006.

Judge Desmond Hogan described the offences as "pre-meditated" and said the gardaí were "organs of the state there to protect Irish citizens and were doing their job on the day in a difficult situation."

On hearing from defence counsel that Maguire had initially not realised the seriousness of the offences Judge Hogan asked: "How can someone throw petrol bombs at some one else and not realise the consequences?"

Judge Hogan imposed a five-year sentence on the count of violent disorder and three years of the count of endangerment to run concurrently. He said he saw no reason to suspend any portion of the sentence.

Garda Gerard Moore told Mr Paul Carroll BL, prosecuting, that gardaí were aware that a group called Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) from the North had arranged a parade in the city centre on February 25 and that a counter demonstration had been organised by Republican Sinn Féin.

He said a public order unit clothed in riot gear formed a cordon on O'Connell street and began to receive verbal abuse at about 10.30am that morning. He said this escalated into violence at about 12.30 pm with bottles, stones and paving slabs being thrown at gardai.

He said two colleagues, Sergeant Patrick McMenamin and Garda Jane Heaney, were set alight by a petrol bomb later found to have been thrown by Maguire.

Gda Moore said there were no serious injuries in relation to that incident but in the overall violence 31 gardaí and 11 members of the public were injured and 42 business premises, 12 private vehicles and 11 garda cars were damaged.

Gda Moore said there had been 6, 500 photographs and 1, 100 video tapes from various sources analysed during the investigation into the riots. He said that the first footage of Maguire was on a Dublin Bus with other people at about 9.30 am that morning carrying a bag containing bottles, petrol and rags.

He was next seen on footage at midday in possession of five petrol bombs which had been constructed from the contents of the bag. Gardaí were able to pin point three incidents of him throwing petrol bombs at gardaí that afternoon.

Gda Moore said pictures of Maguire were circulated via internal garda bulletin throughout the country and he was arrested after being spotted on O'Connell Street by Detective Sergeant Ciaran Farrelly on April 16.

Maguire admitted being involved in the riots during interview. He told gardaí that he had wanted to stop the parade going past the GPO and had brought a bag with bottles, petrol and rags into the city centre that morning, stashing it in Parnell street until the afternoon.

Maguire told gardaí that he had been shouting IRA chants in O'Connell street in the morning and had not been involved in the initial throwing of rocks at gardaí. He admitted making five petrol bombs but said he had only thrown three, giving the other two to an accomplice to throw, and said he did not believe they had hit gardaí.

He said he had later been involved in pulling railings across O'Connell street and throwing bottles further down O'Connell Street.

Gda Moore said Maguire had initially been proud of his actions in stopping the march but began to show remorse when the seriousness of the offences became apparent and he denied any involvement with or support for republican organisations.

Gda Moore agreed with Mr Remy Farrell BL, defending, that his client could be described as impressionable and that he had no previous convictions.

Mr Farrell submitted that his client had entered a early guilty plea and had co-operated gardaí. He said his clients family, none of whom had been in trouble before, were in court to support him and described his client as "hardworking and contentious".

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