A 22-year-old appeared in court last night charged with a serious assault on a man who remains in a coma after a dispute at a halting site in Waterford city over the weekend.

James O'Reilly, 22, who lives at the Kilbarry halting site on the outskirts of the city and comes from a well-known Traveller family in Waterford, suffered head injuries.

Mr O'Reilly was brought to Waterford Regional Hospital after the attack at the Williamstown halting site at about 1.35am on Sunday. 

Stephen McDonagh, of Ballyboy Road in Kilcormac, Co Offaly, appeared at a special sitting of the District Court in Waterford last night charged with assaulting Mr O'Reilly, causing him harm. 

Giving evidence of arrest, charge and caution, Detective Garda Michael Burke told Judge Gerard Furlong that the accused offered no reply when informed of the charge. 

Legal aid was granted in the matter and there were no objections to bail, which has agreed terms attached.

Bail was granted on a bond of €300, while the accused's wife Lisa McDonagh lodged an independent surety of €250 in cash. 

Inspector Anthony Dineen asked Judge Furlong to order that the accused sign on at Birr Garda Station between 9am and 9pm on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, that he observe a curfew between 10pm and 8am and "not to return to Waterford city, save for scheduled court appearances". 

Judge Furlong acceded to the application.  

The charges arise from a row at the Willianstown halting site early on Sunday.

Mr O'Reilly was badly injured and taken to Waterford Regional Hospital.

He was later transferred to Cork University Hospital and put into an induced coma. 

The accused was arrested at Kilcormac and another man was arrested at Portlaoise on Sunday afternoon. 

Mr McDonagh and the other man were held for questioning at Waterford Garda Station. 

The other man was released and a file is being prepared by the Director of Public Prosecutions, while Mr McDonagh was charged. 

Judge Furlong adjourned the matter to a sitting of the court on 11 February.