By Declan Brennan
An American history scholar took part in an attack on a man who anti-fascist protesters linked to a far-right movement, a court has heard.
During anti-racism protests in Dublin city centre on February 6, 2016, Kerron Ó’Luain (34) joined a group of people who attacked a Polish man who Ó’Luain believed was a member of the far-right group Pegida.
The victim was kicked and punched. Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Ó’Luain threw one punch, but then left the scene before the assault became more serious.
Ó’Luain with an address at Greenogue Drive, Rathcoole, Dublin, pleaded guilty to using unlawful violence along with others at the Euro shop on North Earl Street, Dublin 1 on February 6, 2016.
Sergeant Garda Colm Davidson told the court that on that day a rally had been organised “by what might be called a far-right movement” in the city centre. He said an anti-racism movement had organised a counter protest around O’Connell street.
He said that the second group saw some Polish men speaking to gardaí nearby about a woman who had a bag stolen. The court heard these men knew members of the “far-right” group that had organised the rally and protesters began shouting “fascist scum off our streets” at these men.
The protesters became more aggressive and the men ran off, with two of the men running into a nearby shop, followed by some of the protesters. One of the men fell to the ground and was then assaulted by a number of people.
CCTV footage showed Ó’Luain punching the victim in the head before leaving the scene while the attack continues. The victim sustained cuts and bruises but did not make a statement to gardaí.
Sgt Davidson told Marc Thompson BL, defending, that Ó’Luain was not on any “garda radar” and was a visible presence in the city through his “passionate protesting”.
The garda witness agreed that the right-wing rally was linked to Pegida, a group with “Xenophobic and homophobic views trying to get a foothold in Dublin”. He agreed that Ó’Luain believed the victim was a member of Pegida.
Counsel told the court that his client is a history student who was on an American Fullbright scholarship. He said he stands to lose his profession and his reputation.
He said his client has instructed him to offer a full and frank apology.
Last July Judge Melanie Greally said that Ó’Luain’s culpability was in the low range for violent disorder and that while it was reprehensible conduct it was “very short lived”.
“He made a very serious error of judgement by resorting to violence to express his dissent,” she said. She adjourned sentencing after ordering Ó’Luain to make a donation of €200 to Pieta House and to keep the peace for that period.
Sentencing last week, she noted that Ó’Luain had complied with all the conditions set by the court last July and discharged him from the indictment.
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