Woman's threat to harm Tánaiste with screwdriver was 'cry for help', court hears

Woman's threat to harm Tánaiste with screwdriver was 'cry for help', court hears
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, © PA Wire/PA Images

Tom Tuite

A Dublin woman arrested near Leinster House armed with a screwdriver after “threats to harm” Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was making “a cry for help”, a court has heard.

Dublin District Court heard Sinead Keogh (33), of Glin Crescent, Coolock, had suffered mental health problems and was attempting to draw attention to herself at the time.

She pleaded guilty to possessing a screwdriver as a weapon during the incident on July 21st on Molesworth Street.


She was on bail at the time and spent five weeks in custody until she was released last Thursday. She also admitted to another similar offence for having a screwdriver as a weapon at Kildare Street on an earlier date.

Keogh breached conditions and broke a previous order to stay away from the building during the latest incident.

The court heard she had been held earlier in the day under the Mental Health Act. However, a doctor found self-inflicted superficial cuts to her arm to be "attention seeking" and held that she should not be admitted to hospital.

'Cry for help'

The court heard Keogh rang a crisis centre and threatened to attack a member of the Government.


Garda Mark O'Neill said Keogh was arrested in the vicinity of Leinster House and “made threats to harm Leo Varadkar”. She handed over the screwdriver and was arrested.

Brian Lindsay BL, defending, said Keogh was very apologetic and had no prior criminal convictions.

Describing the incident as a "cry for help," counsel said Keogh had been diagnosed with mental health problems and had not taken her medication at the time.

The court heard she is now continuing to accept help and has family support.


Counsel said the five weeks in custody was her first experience of jail and the scariest time of her life.

Since getting bail last week, she has obeyed conditions, including following the directions of her medical practitioners, staying out of Dublin 1 and Dublin 2, and obeying a curfew from 6.30pm-6am.

Judge Grainne Malone said she had to balance the serious nature of the location and what Keogh said against her mental health issues. The judge also noted the impact that custody has had on the accused.

Sentencing was adjourned until a date in November in order for psychiatric and probation reports to be prepared.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can freephone the Samaritans 24 hours a day for confidential support at 116 123 or email [email protected]. 

Alternatively, the contact information for a range of mental health supports is available at 

In the case of an emergency, or if you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self-harm, dial 999/112.