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social media warning Man charged over seizure of a starting pistol and 10 rounds of blank ammunition granted bail

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A Co Longford man charged over a seizure of a starting pistol and 10 rounds of blank ammunition has been granted bail but warned not to discuss his case on social media.

William O'Connor, 42, of Tromra Road in Granard, was arrested at his home at about 3pm on Thursday after gardai performed a traffic stop.

He was arrested and detained at Granard Garda station under the Offences Against the State Act.

At just before 5.50 pm olast night, Mr O'Connor was charged with two offences under the Firearms Act for unlawful possession of 10 blank cartridges and a blank firing pistol.

He appeared before Judge Alan Mitchell at a late special sitting of Mullingar District Court.

Garda Louise Crehan told the court Mr O'Connor "made no reply to each charge after caution".

Court presenter Garda Sergeant Paul McNally told Judge Mitchell there was no objection to bail with conditions, subject to the court's approval.

He added that they had already been canvassed and agreed with defence solicitor Brid Mimnagh.

Judge Mitchell noted gardai sought an 11-week adjournment to obtain directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions and "to continue the investigation". They have also seized his phone and would carry out a forensic examination of the firearm.

He ordered Mr O'Connor to obey a 9 pm – 9 am curfew and not apply for a new or duplicate passport, national ID card or travel documentation.

He must provide gardai with a contact phone number within 48 hours, notify them of any address change, and not drive any motor vehicle.

He said this was due to the seriousness of the offence.

Gardai requested an order banning the accused from engaging with social media regarding the alleged offence. The court heard that there had been "social media commentary in relation to this incident" on Facebook.

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Judge Mitchell said the request was unusual but agreed to impose the condition. He also warned other internet users to "keep their heads down", adding that it "would be much better than putting things up on social media".

There was no objection from the defence.

Judge Mitchell set bail in his bond of €300 and ordered him to appear at Longford District Court on March 18 next. Mr O’Connor spoke only to confirm his signature on his bail bond.

He has not yet indicated how he will plead.

The judge granted legal aid after noting the accused was on disability benefit.

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