Golfgate trial: Charges against all four defendants dismissed by judge

Published date03 February 2022
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
Independent TD Noel Grealish and former Fianna Fáil senator Donie Cassidy, along with hoteliers John Sweeney and James Sweeney, had each denied they organised the Oireachtas Golf Society event in breach of pandemic restrictions at the Station House Hotel in Clifden on August 19th, 2020

Speaking at the end of a three-day trial at Galway District Court, Judge Mary Fahy there had been a huge body of evidence presented to the court which showed that while there had been one golf outing, there had been two distinct areas in the hotel which catered for two groups.

"The regulations provided for 50, but in two distinct areas. We have to admit the evidence was most impressive, from Judge Woulfe and Mr Buttimer in particular - he was most impressive.

"They were all responsible people who would not have gone to a dinner unless they felt comfortable and unless the organisers had not put in place all that was required to make it safe.

Court of opinion

"I'm satisfied the organisers did everything to comply - not in a court of public opinion - but in the court of law in my opinion.

"Unfortunately, very good people lost very good jobs and very good contracts and just to clarify, I didn't make my decision based on that.

"I'm dismissing the charges against all four defendants," Judge Fahy said.

In a brief comment as he left the courthouse Mr Grealish said he was "delighted with the outcome".

An emotional Donie Cassidy said as he left court that he was always a lawmaker and not a lawbreaker.

"We did everything we can to live within the Covid regulations, and operate within the act. Bearing in mind the huge amount of people who have been affected in Ireland, the 6,500 people who have lost their lives.

Fighting back tears he said: "As I said before, I've been all my life a lawmaker, not a lawbreaker. And I have to thank my wife and my family, we've gone through a difficult time. To my legal team, Colm Smith, Willie Penrose, and JJ Mannion, who have been the backbone of keeping me sane.

"My mother used to always say, the truth always wins in the end, and I'm deeply grateful to Judge Fahy for that happening here today.

"You see what's happened over the last two years? Well, a lot of friends lost their positions in life, serious positions that have taken 25 and 30 years to put there. I hope that the people who made the decisions on those occasions will know they have been vindicated and put good people back in the long term to serve the country.

"They were great people serving...

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