Belfast Telegraph

GAA Donegal hero Martin Shovlin guilty of threatening behaviour

By Gerry McLaughlin

A former GAA star involved in a dispute over road access to the sea has been found guilty of using threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour.

A judge found that 1992 All-Ireland winner Martin Shovlin had tried to provoke another man who was putting up a fence near a narrow road that led to the sea.

The road had been used by former Donegal player Shovlin (54) and some other locals for many years, an earlier sitting at Donegal Town District Court was told.

Judge Kevin Kilrane said he was satisfied that Shovlin, of Ballycroey, St John's Point, Dunkineely, Co Donegal, had driven his Eircom van down to where Fermanagh man Brendan Tolan was putting up a fence in a bid to provoke him.

But the judge also said Tolan, of Killadeas Road, Lisnarick, had a quick temper. The court had heard earlier that Tolan (42) was spraying weeds at a field near his employer's house at Ballycroey when Shovlin got out of an Eircom van and told him he "would get him" on July 7, 2013.

The court heard Shovlin told Tolan he could "come down at any time of the night and you are going to get your comeuppance".

When the witness asked Shovlin if he was threatening him, he replied that he was.

The court heard that one of Shovlin's daughter's took him away.

The witness said he felt very threatened as he was living on his own in an isolated area.

Shovlin told yesterday's sitting of Donegal Town Court that Tolan had threatened him at a previous sitting in court, saying that Shovlin would get his comeuppance.

Judge Kilrane dismissed charges of using threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour against both men over an earlier incident at the same location.

This incident, on June 15, 2013, happened a few hours after Tolan told another witness, Gerard Ellison, that he would "burn him out" because his daughter had allegedly taken down some of Tolan's fence posts.

Judge Kilrane found Tolan guilty of making that threat, as well as using threatening and abusive behaviour, and said he had behaved very badly at the Ellison house and had put them in fear.

Shovlin told the court that Tolan had a spade in his hand and told him he was "going to shove this in your head and sink it in your skull" at Ballycroey a few hours later on June 15. Shovlin said he invited Tolan to put the spade down so they could settle it man to man.

Tolan told the court that Shovlin had accused him of threatening his friend Gerard Ellison "and he would not stand for it".

Tolan said Shovlin grabbed him by the collar and his eyes were bulging.

Judge Kevin Kilrane said he had difficulty in deciding who was telling the truth in an encounter between grown men that was at times "laughable".

He said two grown men should know better and dismissed the public order charge against both.

While Judge Kilrane found the facts proved, he adjourned the case until June 1, 2016 and said if "there was peace in the valley" he would not record any criminal convictions.

Belfast Telegraph


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