A field officer working with the census office cried giving evidence in Tuam District Court against a father and son who she claimed terrified her when she went to deliver a census form.
Sineád Glynn recalled the day she called on Terry and John Byrne’s home in Brownsgrove, Tuam on April 5 last year when the two men rushed towards her car shouting abuse and calling her “a prostitute for the Government.”
Ms Glynn had called to the Byrne house to deliver the census form as the enumerator had failed to make a delivery some weeks earlier when the men had been abusive to her and refused to accept the form.
She said she had first spoken to a woman in the driveway of the house by introducing herself and showing her ID.
She told her the man of the house wasn’t there but would be back in an hour so she decided to sit in her car, parked on a gravelled hard shoulder outside the house on the main Dunmore/Tuam Road. Then the woman got into a car and drove off.
Shortly afterwards a man, identified in Court as the son, John Byrne, came out and took photographs of her car but didn’t acknowledge her. After that the woman returned followed by another car and both parked in the driveway.
The older man, Terry Byrne, came out of the second car and John came out of the house and they both rushed towards her car and started banging on the bonnet and the windows.
Ms Glynn was visibly upset as she gave her direct evidence. “They harangued me. They were shouting at me, shouting abuse. I was terrified but trying not to show it. I tried speaking to the older man but he started screaming at me and told me to get off his property.
“I asked if I could reverse into their driveway so I could turn around towards Tuam but they wouldn’t let me telling me to drive on,” she told Judge Deirdre Gearty.
Danny McGrath, solicitor representing both Byrnes, said his clients’ version of the story was different. He said they didn’t know who Ms Glynn was and that she had been parked on their private property.
He said that Ms Glynn had smirked at them, was defiant and had said they could be incarcerated and fined €40,000 if they didn’t sign the form.
Ms Glynn said she may have initially smiled at them but denied smirking or being defiant, adding that she may have mentioned the fine but said nothing about incarceration.
Ms Glynn reported the matter to Gardaí in Tuam immediately, which was the protocol for such incidents, she told the Court.
Garda Shane O’Brien said he had gone to the house later that day but nobody was about but a few weeks later called again in the company of another Garda.
On that occasion the two Byrne men refused to confirm who they were and shouted at the Gardaí while one of the Byrnes videoed the exchange.
Garda O’Brien said the men didn’t shout any abuse but kept telling them to get off their property.
Mr McGrath produced folio maps from the Land Registry showing that the area just outside the house at the side of the road was indeed part of the Byrne property. He said they maintained that part of the road, not Galway County Council.
Judge Gearty on examining the map said she was satisfied that the incident took place on private property adding that while she sympathised with Ms Glynn she had to dismiss the case against the Byrnes.