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Trial of three alleged to have verbally abused President Higgins delayed

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Derek Byrne, one of the alleged abusers
Derek Byrne, one of the alleged abusers

THE trial of two men and a woman accused of engaging in threatening and abusive language allegedly directed at President Michael D Higgins has been delayed.

Dublin District Court has heard arguments from the defence that the allegation is too vague. Today, the State asked for more time to furnish the court with written submissions in reply.

The case was adjourned until April 21.

The abuse was allegedly directed at President Michael D Higgins during a protest at Cappagh Road in Finglas in Dublin on January 23 last year.

Two men and a woman from Dublin face trial.

Derek Byrne (36), of Streamville Rd, Kilbarrack, Anna Clarke (35) from St Donagh's Road, Donaghmede, and Diarmuid Dubhghlais (41) of Parc Ui Mhaoiliosa, Finglas all face trial over the alleged incident. Mr Dubhghlais's trial is set to take place separately and through Irish.

They are charged with engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace may be occasioned. The offence can result in a fine and/or a three-month jail sentence.

Simon Donagh BL for Ms Clarke has argued the charge was similar to another which had been struck down by the High Court because it was too vague.

He has asked the court to dismiss this case or for the State to "nail their colours to the mast". He said the charge against his client involved at least three offences: threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour. There were 20 statements in relation to Ms Clarke and counsel said he did not know what offence was alleged against Ms Clarke, he argued.

Prionsias O Maolchalain BL for Mr Byrne has said he was adopting the same submissions. He said it was impossible to adequately defend the case or to know what precise offence was being alleged. He said the prosecution against his client which involved 24 statements was fatally flawed.