Controversial senator represents himself in court on drink driving charges

James Heffernan
James Heffernan

A former senator faces two charges of dangerous driving and one charge of drink driving after attending a Cork music festival.

James Heffernan (36), identified in court as Seamus O'Heifearnain, was charged before Fermoy District Court with a total of five counts.

These include two counts of dangerous driving, one count of driving while over the alcohol limit, one charge of driving without correct insurance and one count of driving without a valid license.

The counts all relate to August 1 last and involve locations at either the Limerick Road and Coolnanave area of Mitchelstown.

Garda Dave Delea gave evidence of arrest, caution and charge.

He told Judge Brian Sheridan that Mr Heffernan made no reply when the charges were put to him.

Mr Heffernan briefly addressed the court. "I am representing myself here today," he said.

"I am in the process of engaging a solicitor. I will be seeking details of all documents for disclosure."

However, Judge Sheridan said these were technical matters for another date.

He adjourned the matter until October 7 next when he said the issue of a plea and defence can be dealt with.

Judge Sheridan advised Mr Heffernan about the importance of legal representation.

"I will be consulting a solicitor," Mr Heffernan said.

The charges relate to a date on which the Independence music and arts festival was taking place in Mitchelstown in north Cork.

Mr Heffernan of Baile na Lyna, Kilfinane, Co Limerick was elected as a Labour Party senator to the 24th Seanad.

He had unsuccessfully contested the 2007 and 2011 General Elections in Limerick County for the Labour Party.

A graduate of the University of Limerick and a qualified primary school teacher, Mr Heffernan taught at schools in both Ireland and the UK.

He is also a former member of Limerick Co Council.

Mr Heffernan lost the Labour whip after he voted against the Fine Gael-Labour Government over the 2012 Social Welfare Bill.

He contested the 2016 General Election for the Social Democrats but, despite garnering over 3,000 votes, was not elected to the Dáil.