*Junior Minister Anne Rabbitt. Photograph: Natasha Barton

A SOUTH GALWAY farmer alleged to have thrown a bag containing cow dung in the direction of Minister for State, Anne Rabbitte (FF) at a public meeting has been charged with assaulting the Fianna Fail deputy.

At Gort District Court, Joseph Baldwin (38) of Ballyaneen, Gort faces prosecution where he is charged with assaulting Anne Rabbitte on January 4th at a public meeting at O’Sullivans Royal Hotel, Gort.

The assault charge against Mr Baldwin is contrary to Section 2 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act.

Galway East TD and Minister of State at the Dept of Health and at the Dept of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) was attending the meeting to hear locals’ concerns over a planned biogas plant for Gort.

Galway East colleague, Deputy Ciarán Cannon (FG) was also in attendance at the same meeting, which was called to discuss taking a judicial review against the planning decision permitting the biogas plant and €20,000 was pledged to the fight by those present.

Mr Baldwin is also facing a second charge where he is accused of using or engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting word or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace of being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace might have been occasioned.

The charge is contrary to Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act. The summons for the alleged assault and the public order breach is being brought by Sgt Diarmuid Cloonan of Gort Garda Station.

When the case was called at Gort District Court on Thursday, solicitor for the accused, John Nash said he was asking for the case to be put back for mention to a date in the new year.

Mr Nash said he had spoken with an Inspector handling the case “last night” and agreed to put the case back until February “for mention only” as there was an outstanding disclosure issue.

Judge Alec Gabbett asked, “This is a summary matter is it?”.

Insp Eleanor O’Halloran replied “Yes judge.”

A summary offence is an offence which can only be dealt with by a judge sitting without a jury in the District Court.

Insp O’Halloran confirmed to Judge Gabbett there was CCTV of the alleged incident outstanding.

Insp O’Halloran further assured Judge Gabbett the footage would be available to the defence and formatted correctly by the next court date.

Judge Gabbett adjourned the case to February 22nd next for the CCTV to be provided to Mr Nash.

Those who are convicted of Section 2 assault charges in the district court face penalties of a prison term up to six months or a fine not exceeding €1,905.

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