The court heard there had been trouble brewing between two connected sets of McDonagh families in the Castle Meadows area of Trim
The Garda Public Order Unit, also known as the riot squad, had to be drafted in from Dublin following what was described as an “interfamilial dispute” in Trim, Co Meath, at 5.30am on March 18, 2019.
The court heard gardai arrived to a scene of absolute carnage, with blood on the ground, people with various injuries and weapons including shovels, golf clubs, wheel braces and car jacks scattered around.
Judge Orla Crowe described what happened as “extraordinary” and “disgraceful” before handing down 18-month suspended sentences to all seven involved.
The court heard there had been trouble brewing between two connected sets of McDonagh families in the Castle Meadows area of Trim, which spilled over from the St Patrick’s Day celebrations and exploded into violence at 5.30am the following morning amid heavy consumption of alcohol.
“At 5.30am there were 20 people out rioting around that estate in a small quiet town of Trim. That is an extraordinary state of affairs and a disgraceful state of affairs,” Judge Crowe told Trim Circuit Court.
On one side of the dispute were grandparents Terry (54) and Margaret McDonagh (54) and their sons John (25) and Martin Gerard (30), while on the other side were brothers Paul (39) and Timmy McDonagh (25), as well as another relative, Patrick (33).
The court heard Martin Gerard was married to Paul and Timmy’s sister, Christine, and the families normally got on.
Judge Crowe said there was bad blood in the estate on the outskirts of Trim on the night of St Patrick’s Day and the early hours of March 18, 2019.
Gardai had been alerted to issues in the area earlier that evening but it was quiet when they arrived at the scene and they left without any incident.
“At 5.30am they got another call about a large scale disturbance, a large fight involving at least 20 people with onlookers,” Judge Crowe said.
When gardai arrived, the people involved dropped their weapons.
“There was blood on the footpath, people with facial injuries, golf clubs, wheel braces, car jacks. No one made any complaints,” the court heard.
“Gardai from Navan, Kells and Trim [attended the scene] and the Public Order Unit were brought from Dublin to patrol the estate for 24 hours.”
Judge Crowe said there had been a ramming of a vehicles in the build-up to the riot and a “level of animosity clearly fuelled by drink”.
CCTV showed how events unfolded.
Grandfather Terry McDonagh (54), who lives in Castle Meadows with his wife and co-accused Margaret, was seen swinging various weapons including a golf club, making threats to numerous people and giving instructions to others involved in the melee.
The court heard he had 29 previous convictions for theft, eight public order convictions and eight for road traffic offences.
Judge Crowe said McDonagh and his wife had nine children and the court was told he had 10 or 15 grandchildren.
The court also heard that one of his grandchildren died recently which led to a resolution between the family members.
His wife Margaret (55), of the same address, was seen on CCTV picking up a shovel and running towards Paul McDonagh. She was also seen throwing the shovel and shouting at John McDonagh.
She has eight previous convictions for theft, public order and road traffic offences.
“It’s a sorry state of affairs that two grandparents involved themselves in throwing shovels at people,” Judge Crowe said.
She said while the other people involved were younger, Mr and Mrs McDonagh “ought to have known better”.
Judge Crowe said even though the footage showed different levels of involvement, she was treating it as a joint enterprise as they were all equally creating an element of menace to the public at large.
All seven pleaded guilty to violent disorder offences.