A 57-YEAR-OLD Dublin woman sent obscene phone messages to Aras an Uachtarain threatening to bomb President Michael D Higgins if he visited England, a court has heard.
On one occasion Anne Fennell referred to President Higgins as a “ladyboy” and on another told the receptionist that “the President and Sabrina Higgins would go home in plastic bags if they set foot on English soil”.
She made repeated threats to bomb the president over a number of phone calls in April 2014 and again in October the same year.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court also heard that the entire area around Dáil Éireann had to be searched on 18 November 2014 when Fennell called to say there would be a bomb at the main gate.
The parliamentary usher who took the call later told gardaí that Fennell, a former An Post worker, had hung up “screaming”.
Fennell, of Monastery Gate Green, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to making persistent annoying phone calls and sending obscene or menacing phone messages to Aras an Uachtarain, the Department of Finance, the European Commission Representation, An Post Dublin Mail Centre and the constituency offices of TDs Alan Kelly, Aodhan O Riordain and Noel Coonan between 2 February and 1 December 2014.
She has no previous convictions.
Superintendent Michael Cryan told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, that Fennell apologised to gardaí when they arrested her after tracing the calls to her Nokia mobile phone.
She said she had been reacting to news stories on television and told officers she was “lonely”. She added that her threats were “just words”.
Series of threats linked to news events
Supt Cryan described how Fennell had phoned the Department of Finance on 26 February 2014 “ranting and raving” and threatening to bomb President Higgins if he went to Britain.
She threatened the EU Commission with a bomb in March if Europe didn’t “lay off” Cyprus and its economy.
On 17, 18 and 19 November 2014 she called Environment Minister Alan Kelly’s Nenagh office and threatened him and his family with bombs and bullets.
She claimed that a previous bomb threat had been a “dry run” and that she would “put a bullet in (Mr Kelly’s) head”.
Supt Cryan told Ms Duffy that Mr Kelly put extra security measures in place due to those calls.
He said Fennell threatened to send a bomb to the An Post Mail Centre if they posted water bills.
She called TD Noel Coonan’s Thurles constituency office in November and December 2014 making obscene comments about him. She claimed that the bomb squad would have to open a brown envelope “present” sent to him.
She also phoned the office of TD Aodhan O Riordain threatening to blow up his car in November 2014.
Supt Cryan told Ms Duffy that the constituency office calls had been put through from a main Dáil Eireann switchboard and that way Fennell’s number wasn’t shown.
Supt Cryan said Fennell revealed that she rang Dáil Eireann weekly to complain about various issues.
He agreed with Kevin White BL, defending, that his client lived alone in “very poor circumstances” out of a sleeping bag in a bottom room of her house.
He accepted she had “no means or know-how” to carry out the threats and that she was angry at herself and the world.
Mr White submitted to Judge Melanie Greally that his client was “deeply, deeply regretful for her behaviour” and offered no excuse for it.
He said she had a poor-but-good childhood, had once been in a relationship and had worked with An Post for 11 years.
He asked the judge to give his client a chance, adding that the public interest lay in her rehabilitation.
Judge Greally noted from a photograph handed to her in court that Fennell lived in “sub-human conditions”.
She remanded Fennell on continuing bail to July so she could continue with her psychological therapy and engage with the probation services.
The judge ordered a probation and welfare report to see if any structures could be put in place to give Fennell a more “pro-social” existence, as her offending seemed due to her isolation.