Ballyshannon District Court got off to a very unusual start this morning as a defendant entertained those present with harp music.
Liam McCluskey (36) continued his skilful rendition of the well-known Irish air Buachaill ón Eirne as the judge entered the courtroom. He initially kept playing after the call for silence in court. However, he stopped when a garda told him that his harp would be taken from him if he didn’t remain silent.
McCluskey of Ardfarna, Bundoran was before Friday’s sitting of Ballyshannon charged with 14 offences. They included six counts of dangerous driving, three of driving without insurance and two of driving without a license. McCluskey is charged with failing to attend court in Glenties and Manorhamilton. He is also charged with threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour in Glencolmcille.
All alleged offences occurred between August 8, 2016 and January 14, 2017 at various locations in Donegal and Leitrim.
Judge Kevin Kilrane asked the defendant if he had a solicitor.
McCluskey replied: “I have not, nor do I wish to have one.”
The judge then asked McCluskey how he wished to plead to a charge of no insurance.
McCluskey said he had no faith or confidence in the court.
Judge Kilrane said he must therefore record a plea of not guilty.
McCluskey replied: “No! You cannot do that. You cannot plead for me.”
The judge explained that he had to enter the not guilty plea if the defendant did not do so himself.
He granted bail and adjourned the case to April 7 for all charges to be heard.
A short time later, Mc Cluskey arrived back in court, still carrying his harp.
He stood before the court and said: “I have been forced here against my own will by these three uniforms. They won’t let a man have peace.”
The arresting garda explained that there was a further charge of dangerous driving against McCluskey.
Judge Kilrane asked the defendant what he wished to say about that charge.
Mc Cluskey said: “This man is a deceitful man.”
The judge extended bail to include the new charge with those to be heard on April 7.
He then asked McCluskey if he required a solicitor.
“It is a serious charge,” explained Judge Kilrane. “A solicitor will be provided for you on legal aid.”
The defendant did not answer, but said: “I will go now.”
He exited the court, clutching his harp to his chest.
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