A south Co Galway farmer alleged to have thrown a bag containing cow dung in the direction of Minister of State Anne Rabbitte at a public meeting is to contest the charge of assaulting the Fianna Fáil deputy.

At Gort District Court on Friday, solicitor for Joseph Baldwin (38) of Ballyaneen, Gort, John Nash told Judge Alec Gabbett that a hearing date is required in the case.

In the case, Mr Baldwin faces prosecution where he is charged with assaulting Anne Rabbitte on 4 January 2023 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.

As Mr Baldwin has, through Mr Nash, confirmed that he is to contest the charge, Galway East TD and Minister of State at the Department of Health and at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Deputy Anne Rabbitte will be required to provide her sworn eyewitness account from the witness box of what occurred on the night as part of the State case against Mr Baldwin.

Mr Nash will be able to cross examine Minster Rabbitte on her evidence on behalf of his client.

Minister Rabbitt was attending the meeting to hear locals’ concerns over a planned biogas plant for Gort.

Biogas plant

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 contesting 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.

CCTV evidence

CCTV evidence is to also form part of the State’s case and Judge Gabbett asked Mr Nash “do I need to bring this to a court where CCTV can be shown?”

Judge Gabbett asked Mr Nash that “you don’t want to come to Ennis to see the CCTV on the big screen?”

Mr Nash said that he was happy that the case remain at Gort District Court and that a court laptop would be sufficient for the showing of the CCTV.

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Mr Nash asked that the contested case take place on 23 May at Gort District Court and Judge Gabbett adjourned the case to that date for hearing.

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.