Ex-Fianna Fail senator Francis O'Brien charged over extortion

Three men, including a former member of the Irish parliament, have been charged in an extortion investigation.

Francis O'Brien, a former Fianna Fail senator from Castleblayney, County Monaghan, appeared with his co-accused before Carrickmacross district court.

The other defendants are Michael Marron, from Taghart, County Cavan, and Raymond McCaughey, from Drumgannus, County Monaghan.

They are each charged with demanding 100,000 euros (£85,000) with menaces.

All three are accused of demanding the money from Michael Heelan on 27 April 2012.

The alleged offences took place at Tullyvaragh Lower in Carrickmacross.

Passports surrendered

Mr O'Brien, of Corwillan, Castleblayney, retired as a public representative two years ago.

The 70-year-old did not contest the last elections to the Irish Senate (Seanad Eireann).

At the court in Carrickmacross on Wednesday, all three men were remanded on bail of 5,000 euros (£4,250).

They were also ordered to hand over their passports, not to contact any witnesses and sign on weekly at their local police station.

None of them spoke during the brief hearing but a detective inspector gave evidence of arresting, charging and cautioning the accused.

The case is due back before the same court on 22 May.