A college lecturer has been convicted and fined for using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour towards an employee of Irish Water in Sligo last year. Brian O'Boyle, originally from Dublin and who was living at a house in the Laurels estate in Sligo at the time, had pleaded not guilty to the public order offence.
Pearl Duffy, who was distributing Irish Water leaflets to houses in the estate on 20 June 2014, alleged that Mr O'Boyle had shouted at her to get out of there, she wasn't welcome.
She told Sligo District Court that she was five and a half months pregnant at the time.
She said O'Boyle was quite aggressive and she was shocked.
She said she told him she was pregnant and he said she wasn't welcome and told her to "get out of here, you are not welcome, you are nothing but a scumbag".
O'Boyle denied he was abusive towards Ms Duffy.
He told the court that his first words to her were, "excuse me, you are not welcome here".
O'Boyle said he told Ms Duffy that residents in the estate had signed a petition saying Irish Water was not welcome there.
He denied that he used the word scumbag and said he was not aggressive, he was assertive and wanted to make a political point.
Two other residents in the estate also gave evidence.
Lucia Conlon said she didn't know O'Boyle but she heard him saying "excuse me, you are not welcome here" and said he spoke firmly, but not aggressively.
John Foley said he went out to the street after hearing loud voices but that O'Boyle did not abuse Ms Duffy.
Judge Kevin Kilraine said that Ms Duffy was carrying out her duties in a harmless way and he was satisfied the defendant did shout at her and was quite animated, making a political point to a little lady giving out leaflets.
"If that's the way he makes political points, then he's scraping the bottom of the barrel", the Judge said.
The Judge said he was also satisfied O'Boyle had used the word "scum".
He convicted O'Boyle and fined him €300.
Afterwards, O'Boyle said he was shocked at his conviction and would be appealing it.
In a separate case, also related to water protests, the charges against a Sligo County Councillor were dismissed when a witness in the case failed to appear in court.
Councillor Seamus O'Boyle was charged with assaulting a man at a housing estate in Grange, Co Sligo but the alleged injured party did not appear in court.
Garda evidence was given that the man had been informed of the case but that he was a person of nervous disposition and his phone was turned off today.
Judge Kilraine said he would draw his own conclusions from that and dismissed the charges against Mr O'Boyle.
Statement from Brian O'Boyle
Today in his facebook page Brian O'Boyle said
"Today I was convicted of a crime I didn't commit. The claims against me were baseless in fact and without any supporting evidence beyond the word of an Irish Water worker.
Meanwhile I had two independent statements corroborating my version of events. Despite this the gardai in sligo and the DPP chose to build a case against me.
Unfortunately the judge compounded the injustice by finding against me. He offered me a way to escape a criminal record - admit my guilt. I refused.
I didn't engage in threatening behaviour and I will not agree to say that I did. Instead I will appeal. This is political policing designed to undermine the credibility of the anti water charges campaign. This will not work.
The water movement is a grassroots participative campaign based on the struggles of ordinary people, not intimidation or personal abuse. I will continue to engage in the fight against water charges and for a decent society based on the needs of working people."