Neighbours’ long-term 
dispute ends up in court

Buncrana courthouse.
Buncrana courthouse.

A Culdaff woman has described her next-door neighbour as an “insult to womanhood” after she “burst” into her workplace and began “shouting and roaring” in her face.

Ms Sandra Mullarkey was giving evidence at a special sitting of Buncrana District Court, at which her neighbour, Eileen McDaid, 22, St Boden’s Terrace, Culdaff pleaded not guilty to the charge of threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour towards her in McGuinness’ Shop, Culdaff on 16th January, 2014.

The court heard the two women had “ongoing” issues for a number of years resulting in what was described as “handbags stuff” on the day.

Ms Malarkey said that at 11.45am on the date in question, she had been on her own working while another employee, Nicole O’Brien, was on lunch elsewhere on the premises.

She had moved around the counter when the door “burst” open and McDaid, a mother-of-three, entered.

Ms Mullarkey said the 56-year-old came up to her, “roaring and shouting,” into her face” and she could not understand what she was saying.

She told the court: “I just stood there. I couldn’t believe it. I felt my space was invaded. How dare someone do that to someone else?”

Ms Mullarkey said she told McDaid she was going to get her boss, Mr Bernard McGuinness. McDaid followed her, still roaring and shouting. Ms Mullarkey, who said she was upset at this time, met Mr McGuinness’ wife, Jan and a cleaner who brought her into the kitchen. Mr McGuinness then “removed” McDaid from the premises.

Ms Mullarkey told the court how she had previously made a statement in 2009 about McDaid to Gardai which had been lost but later found.

Becoming emotional, Ms Mullarkey said she is “like a prisoner” in her own home, adding: “It’s a living nightmare.”

“I thought she was going to headbutt or hit me she was so close,” she said.

Defence solicitor Ciaran MacLochlainn said McDaid denied Ms Mullarkey’s version of events and said there had been incidents in 2003 and 2010 one of which was in relation her daughter “out playing.”

Ms Mullarkey said her daughter was “terrified” of McDaid and couldn’t go out to play with her friends.

She said that when her daughter was four-years-old and had glasses, McDaid would call her “speccy-four-eyes.”

Mr MacLochlainn asked Ms Mullarkey if she was aware her daughter verbally abuses McDaid when she passes her house and had called her “big, fat Eileen.”

She said she was not aware of this.

He said McDaid alleged she had calmly entered the shop on the day and asked her to “put manners” on her daughter,

Ms Mullarkey disputed this, stating she could not make out what McDaid was saying.

She added: “I’ve never come across anyone like her. She’s a disgrace to womanhood.”

Mr MacLochlainn asked why none of the witnesses on the day had made statements.

She replied that Mr McGuinness was a local councillor, a “pillar of the community” and didn’t want to get involved, as was his wife, Jan.

The court then heard from Gda Declan Coyne who confirmed the witnesses declined to make statements. McDaid also did not wish to make a statement,

McDaid then gave evidence and refuted Ms Mullarkey’s version of events.

She said that the dispute between herself and her neighbour had been going on a “long, long time” and she’d been “very insulted” when Ms Mullarkey’s daughter allegedly called her ‘big, fat Eileen.”

McDaid said she did not burst through the door but walked into the shop.She added she did not threaten Ms Mullarkey and had no intention of hitting her. McDaid said Mr McGuinness told her there was a “time and place for this” and she then left.

Inspector David Murphy asked McDaid why she went into the shop and did not simply “knock on the door” of her neighbour’s house if she wished to speak to her.

She replied Ms Mullarkey will “not let you on her property.”

She added she was not annoyed on the day, telling the court she had a “lot of problems” previously with Ms Mullarkey.

She said: “In 2010, I had a broken leg. She said to me: ‘you watch yourself as your other leg will be broke or you’ll be dead.

“That’s all in Carn Garda Station.”

Mr MacLochlainn told Judge Paul Kelly how “up to a point,” the incident was “handbag” stuff.

Judge Kelly said it was “very sad” both women “at the stage of their lives they’re at, find themselves in this situation and don’t have the maturity to sort their problems in a mature way.”

He said he did not believe McDaid entered the shop in as “calm and quiet presentation” as she claimed and had “put herself in the situation.” He ruled the charge had been proved,

The court was told McDaid availed of the Probation Act in 2012 at Carndonagh District Court for the charge of allowing a beast to wander.

Judge Kelly said it was “deeply unfortunate” the dispute had “come to this stage,” adding that perhaps the pair could “learn to resolve their differences” with an intermediary.

He bound McDaid to the peace and to be of good behaviour for 12 months on a bond of E200.