Kerry TD Michael-Healy Rae has told a court that he was left rattled from an “awful tirade of abuse” and threatened he would be shot when his car was stuck in traffic in Dublin.
Cianan Doyle, 35, was found guilty today of a public order offence in connection with the incident on the morning of December 4, 2018 at the junction of the South Circular Road and Crumlin Road, at Dolphin’s Barn.
He admitted using bad language, challenging Healy-Rae about the homeless crisis and calling him a “Mé Féiner” when he spoke to the TD. But he denied claims he threatened that he would put a bullet in his head, Dublin District Court heard.
The accused, from Beechfield Road, Perrystown, Dublin 12, was spared a conviction and possible three-month jail sentence after he donated €1,500 to a road safety charity.
Finding him guilty, Judge Michael Walsh said his behaviour was rude but he noted his good record and struck out the case.
The offence was using threatening, insulting or abusive behaviour that could cause a breach of the peace.
Healy-Rae took off his cap after he was sworn in and sat down in the witness box.
He told the trial judge he left Kerry that morning shortly after 5am and reached Dublin at about 8.30am.
He said there were two lanes and he stopped in a line of traffic.
A car pulled up beside him and gestured to roll down his window which he did. He said the driver was cross and very angry, and used very bad language. He said the front seat passenger, the accused, was as bad.
“I’m not faint-hearted but what he did say then rattled me,” the politician said.
He alleged Doyle told him: “You would want a bullet put in your head and I would do it, something to that effect.”
He said his car was pinned in and it was the front seat passenger who made the threat.
Their car then went ahead of him and he recorded its registration plate on his dictaphone.
When he arrived at Leinster House he mentioned it to a senior garda who advised him, “If you let this go, you are wrong, you cannot be going about your business and people saying this to you.”
As a politician, he was used to a lot of things but this left him cross and frightened, he told the court.
Cross-examined by defence solicitor Michael Staines he denied he had been driving in a bus lane and said he was perfectly entitled to be in the line of traffic. There were cars ahead and behind him, he said.
The solicitor put it to him that Doyle has said “fucker” once or twice, that is all.
Healy-Rae replied that this was absolute nonsense and not true.
Mr Staines suggested that Doyle’s father, who was driving, asked him what he was doing about homelessness and that he made political remarks.
Replying, the TD said there may have been a mention of homelessness but he described the exchange as a “vicious verbal attack”.
Mr Staines said they were decent people. “Decent people would not tell another person they would like to shoot them,” Healy-Rae countered.
The solicitor put it to him that he told gardaí he was rattled by it but he had told the court he was frightened. Healy-Rae answered that this was exactly how he felt and that it was a totally unacceptable act to do.
He said the accused was “roaring and screeching” and “his head was out the window, viciously agitated, for some reason only known to himself”.
The politician rejected defence suggestions he was exaggerating.
In evidence, Cianan Doyle said when they noticed the politician’s car to their left they had a “politically orientated exchange”.
In hindsight, he said, he should not have used bad language and curses but there was no threat. He said he told Healy-Rae he did not care for the people of Kerry, or Ireland and that he was “Mé Féiner”.
He said there was no aggression just bad language and he was sorry for that.
His father, Alan Doyle, a retired taxi driver, also said they spoke to the politician, car to car, and asked him about what he was doing about the homeless.
Alan Doyle claimed that Healy-Rae asked them the same question back.
He denied claims his son had made a threat to the politician.
The accused’ sister Sorcha Doyle said they had been on their normal route that morning and the politician’s car, which had his name emblazoned on it, was in the left lane, for buses.
There was an “adult conversation” between her brother and the TD, and their version was correct, she told the court.
However, the judge found Healy-Rae’s evidence persuasive and said he accepted his evidence without reservation.
He said the accused man’s behaviour was rude and totally unacceptable.
He was told Doyle had an assault conviction from an incident in 2006 when he was aged 19 but since then he had gone to college and has done well in his career. He was being brought to work that morning, the court heard.
Judge Michael Walsh called it an aberration which should not have happened but he struck out the case after Doyle handed in €1,500 to court which will be donated to road safety and victim support charity PARC.