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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
Niall Carson Dolores O'Riordan arrives at Ennis District Court today.
# Dolores O Riordan
O’Riordan shouted 'I’m the Queen of Limerick’ during air rage incident, court told
She also head-butted and spat in the face of one garda, a court in Ennis heard today.

Updated 6.05pm

AN OUT-OF-control Dolores O’Riordan shouted “I’m an icon, I’m the Queen of Limerick” during an air rage incident at Shannon Airport, where she also head-butted and spat in the face of one garda, a court was told today.

During the ‘air rage’ incident on 10 November last year, Inspector Tom Kennedy told Ennis District Court that the 44-year-old Cranberries singer also spat in the face of and kicked out at an Airport Police Office (APO).

Inspector Kennedy said that Ms O’Riordan had become unruly on board a Shannon-bound Aer Lingus flight from JFK, during which she stood on the foot of flight attendant Carmel Coyne and hurt Coyne’s ankle severely.

He said:

She was in the first class area and had become rude in contact with other passengers. She became difficult, unruly, making her presence felt, walking around.

He added that after Ms O’Riordan stood on Ms Coyne’s foot, Ms Coyne alerted the captain and the assistance of the Airport Police (APO) was requested.

‘Do you know who I am?’

Inspector Kennedy said:

Ms O’Riordan was proving very difficult at that stage and telling Ms Coyne ‘Do you know who I am?’ and all of that.

Inspector Kennedy said that after Ms O’Riordan was detained on the plane touching down, she made two separate escapes from custody.

Inspector Kennedy said that on touching down, APO Ronan O’Reilly said that Ms O’Riordan “became very difficult towards him and went to hit him in the face, but missed. He is quite tall. She was able to hit [him] in the shoulder, and kicked him in the waist area”.

Inspector Kennedy said that Ms O’Riordan spat in the face of another APO, Eamon Power “and he had to restrain her and she started to kick back at him, hitting him in the shins. At this stage, it had become more serious and difficult”.

The APOs requested garda back-up, while Ms O’Riordan was provided with oxygen and an ambulance was called due to concern for her welfare.

Inspector Kennedy said that Ms O’Riordan was taken from the aircraft to a nearby ambulance on the tarmac.

He said: “However, Ms O’Riordan came out of the ambulance and went to run towards the aircraft and had to be restrained by APOs and Garda Shane Dawson.”

‘I’m the Queen of LImerick’

In one incident, Inspector Kennedy said that the 44-year-old mother-of-three told Garda Dawson:

You can’t arrest me. I’m an icon. I’m the Queen of Limerick. You don’t know who you are dealing with. I pay my taxes so I pay your wages and I am going to sue you.

Inspector Kennedy said: “Ms O’Riordan was quite irrational, quite aggressive, quite difficult.”

The inspector said that Garda Dawson took Ms O’Riordan to a patrol car and placed her in the back of it to take her to Shannon Garda Station.

Inspector Kennedy said: “She was banging and kicking, it looked like she was trying to break the windows, but she didn’t do that. At that stage, Garda Dawson thought it better to bring along a garda patrol van which has a restraining cell in it so the situation would be better managed”.

Inspector Kennedy said that after escaping from the handcuffs, Ms O’Riordan ran from the patrol car. Garda Dawson gave chase and after apprehending her, Ms O’Riordan “turned around and head butted him and spat into his face”.

Inspector Kennedy said that Garda Dawson had an x-ray of the injury and was off five days of work as a result of the assault.

He added:

She then alleged that Garda Dawson had grabbed her tit and claimed that he sexually assaulted her by groping at her. It was a very nasty situation for Garda Dawson and for all concerned.

Garda Dawson told the court: “She accused me of groping her and sexually assaulting her… It ranks as one of the worst incidents that I have had to ever deal with”.

Garda Dawson said: “I was very shook. The swelling started to close up my eye.”

Garda Dawson agreed with Judge Patrick Durcan that the allegation made by Ms O’Riordan has placed a cloud over him. He said: “I was never accused of doing anything like that before.”

‘Going though a difficult time’

Solicitor for Ms O’Riordan, Bill O’Donnell, immediately accepted in court on behalf of Ms O’Riordan that there is no substance to the allegation made by his client against Garda Dawson.

Ms O’Riordan arrived at Ennis courthouse at 10am and entered the courtroom all dressed in black at 1.15pm, accompanied by her mother Eileen and a brother.

The singer sat in the dock after being directed there by Judge Durcan and the only words she spoke in court were ‘Good afternoon your honour’ after Judge Durcan said: “Good afternoon Ms O’Riordan”.

In his plea of mitigation, Mr O’Donnell said that “these were the actions of a very, very ill person”.

He said: “Clearly from the evidence, she was somewhat out of control.”

Mr O’Donnell said: “Ms O’Riordan was going through a very, very difficult time having recently separated from her husband of 20 years.

“She moved to New York City and hadn’t seen her children, aged 18, 14 and 10 for two months, who live in Canada, and she was living out of a suitcase in New York City.”

He said:

She was quite unwell during this period arising from the devastating effect from the break up of her marriage and not seeing her children.

Mr O’Donnell said that Ms O”Riordan was returning to Ireland for the second anniversary of her father’s death. He said: “This was a very emotional time for my client and she was not in a good place.”

He said: “She was already hyper getting on the plane and she was in a paranoid state.”

Mr O’Donnell said: “All her actions were reactionary and she did not deliberately set out to cause any harm or cause any assault. She genuinely felt she was under attack; that she was under siege.”

Medical reports

Mr O’Donnell handed in a booklet of medical reports on Ms O’Riordan’s psychiatric condition, with one psychiatrist concluding that Ms O’Riordan’s actions “were of a person suffering a severe psychiatric illness”.

Mr O’Donnell said that a medic on the day concluded that Ms O’Riordan was unfit for garda questioning.

Mr O’Donnell said one medic examined Ms O’Riordan shortly after the incident and found Ms O’Riordan to be “in a hypo-manic state and she was not responsible for her actions. I believe that this hypo-mania was brought on by the stress and strain of her marital difficulties”.

A separate psychiatric report found that Ms O’Riordan “looked exhausted, had poor insight into her altered mental state and the incident on the plane took place while she was quite unwell and this was caused by bi-polar disorder”.

The report concluded that Ms O’Riordan’s prognosis for the future is positive but she will require medication in the longer term to manage the condition.

Ms O’Riordan was shortly after admitted to St Patrick’s psychiatric hospital and remained there for three weeks.

Mr O’Donnell said that there was no intention by Ms O’Riordan to commit the actions on the day and she doesn’t remember what fully occurred.

He said that she has no previous convictions, had travelled around the world with her career since she was 18 and had never had an incident on a plane before last November.


Mr O’Donnell said that his client apologised unreservedly for her actions and Judge Durcan requested that she apologise in writing to the victims in the case.

Mr O’Donnell said that his client is “very remorseful about all of this and embarrassed over what has occurred”.

He said that she is back working again and living in New York City and travelled to Ennis from the US for the court case.

Mr O’Donnell pleaded with Judge Durcan not to impose a criminal conviction.

He said that this could impact on Ms O’Riordan’s ability to travel freely and could have consequences on her travelling to see her children in Canada, and for her career.

He said: “She has never been in any kind of trouble in her life. She is of good character. She was always been a strong family person. The events of the past year have taken their toll. These were the actions of a very, very ill person.

She said: “I have known Ms O’Riordan for many years. We know her as the Dolores who played at the opening of the Special Olympics in Limerick and at the opening of the City of Culture, not the Dolores, not the person that unfortunately, that suffered severe illness.”

In the case, Ms O’Riordan has pleaded guilty to four separate alleged offences – including three separate minor assault charges – from the incident at Shannon.

Ms O’Riordan, with an address of Friarstown, Grange, Kilmallock has pleaded guilty to assaulting Garda Shane Dawson and two members of the Airport Police at Shannon, Ronan O’Reilly and Eamon Power.

Ms O’Riordan has pleaded guilty to resisting/wilfully obstructing Garda Dawson in the execution of his duty contrary to Section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.

Any person found guilty of a Section 2 assault in the district court can be fined up to €1,850 or a maximum of six months in jail.

Judge Durcan adjourned the case for mention to 20 January to fix a date for sentence.

Comments have been closed as the case is ongoing. 

First published 3.40pm

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