A judge said she would not say anything sexist after hearing how a middle-aged GAA supporter was “emotional” when lighting a flare at a County Football final.
David Wheeler (49) was one of thousands of fans who attended the Clare Senior Football final between Ennistymon and Éire Óg at Cusack Park in Ennis on October 30th, 2023 when he lit the flare.
Solicitor for Wheeler, of Main Street, Ennistymon, Monica Roche, told Ennis District Court on Wednesday that her client “was emotional on the day and is sorry for what happened”.
“It was the county final, Wheeler is an avid Ennistymon football fan of longstanding,” she said, adding the town had not competed in the Senior County Football final for a long number of years.
Ennistymon ultimately lost the match, with Éire Óg crowned champions for the second successive year.
In response, Judge Larkin said: “For goodness sake — the county final, really and truly. Men really behave like… I won’t say anything sexist. Really and truly…”
Wheeler was charged for releasing a flare at Cusack Park, contrary to Section 80 (1) (a) Explosives Act 1875, as substituted by Section 68 of the Criminal Justice Act.
Judge Larkin told Wheeler to “behave his age” and applied the Probation Act.
Outlining the facts, Sergeant Aiden Lonergan told the court that Garda Elizabeth McDonagh observed Wheeler holding a lit flare and waving it around on the riverside stand of Cusack Park during the match. The stand was crowded at the time, the court heard.
Sgt Lonergan stated Gda McDonagh apprehended Wheeler and, after arrest, made numerous orders for Wheeler to drop the flare. After 30 seconds, he did so, Sgt Lonergan said.
He added: “The flare was kicked away and made safe.”
Sgt Lonergan said, when arrested, Wheeler repeatedly shouted: “You are only arresting me because I am a black man.”
When Wheeler was take to Ennis Garda station, he was charged, to which he responded he “would do it again,” Sgt Lonergan said.
Ms Roche said Wheeler is sorry for what happened but added a photo appeared in The Clare Champion showing numerous people with flares after the game.
She said there was also a video of Wheeler holding the flare, in which she claimed it showed the area around him was clear.