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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Donegal County Council Frank McBrearty Jnr speaking at yesterday's council meeting.
garda probe

Donegal councillor defiant over accusations he took colleague's phone during meeting

Gardaí are investigating.

GARDAÍ HAVE LAUNCHED an investigation after it was alleged a member of Donegal County Council took the phone of another councillor during a heated special meeting of the local authority and left with the device.

The incident happened during a special sitting of the council in Letterkenny yesterday afternoon.

Councillors had been debating housing issues in the Buncrana area when tempers flared.

A video of the meeting shared online shows Councillor Gary Doherty telling the Cathaoirleach of the council that his colleague Councillor Frank McBrearty Jnr had just taken his phone “and put it in his back pocket”.

The Cathaoirleach responds that that is an issue for Cllr Doherty, McBrearty Jnr as well as the gardaí.

The special meeting is adjourned on three separate occasions by the chair of the council due to what the chair described as “interruptions” by councillor McBrearty Jnr.

It is following this third adjournment that the alleged incident occurred.

Speaking in the chamber following the incident, Doherty said: “I find myself in the strange and unusual position to be logged in to ‘Find My Mobile’ at a council meeting because an elected member marched over to where I was standing, grabbed the phone out of my hand, physically and with force and refused to hand it back when asked to do so by me and other elected members.

“He attempted to grab the mobile phone of another member of this council – despite repeated requests to hand the phone back, refused to do so and walked out of here with my phone, my property. As an elected representative, there’s a lot of sensitive information on that phone.

“I am angry. This has been going on far too long – what else has to happen here before there are sanctions towards people who act like thugs?

“Is someone going to have to be physically injured?”

Gardaí confirmed they have started an investigation into the phone incident.

A spokesperson said: “Gardaí are making enquiries into an alleged theft which occurred in Letterkenny, Donegal yesterday afternoon.”

McBrearty, speaking to The Journal this afternoon, said he knows “nothing about any phone”.

He added: “There could be a phone in the middle of the Atlantic going beep, beep, beep.”

When it was put to McBrearty that the gardaí confirmed they are investigating the alleged theft of a mobile phone, McBrearty responded: “They can say what they like.”