Video: Councillor evades jail for republican graffiti

A judge has given a conditional discharge to an independent republican councillor who caused damage to the walls of Londonderry.

Councillor Gary Donnelly and two other men had received a six month jail sentence.

PACEMAKER BELFAST   15/03/2013'Gary Donnelly leave court in Derry on friday after being given bail. 'He is one of Three men have been charged with assisting in arranging a meeting addressed by a member of a proscribed organisation.'The three, aged 50, 42 and 27, are due to appear before Londonderry Magistrates Court on Friday.'It is believed the charges are in connection with an investigation into terrorism offences at the Easter commemoration at the city cemetery in Londonderry last April.

PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/03/2013'Gary Donnelly leave court in Derry on friday after being given bail. 'He is one of Three men have been charged with assisting in arranging a meeting addressed by a member of a proscribed organisation.'The three, aged 50, 42 and 27, are due to appear before Londonderry Magistrates Court on Friday.'It is believed the charges are in connection with an investigation into terrorism offences at the Easter commemoration at the city cemetery in Londonderry last April.

However, on appeal they received a conditional discharge for 12 months.

The court was told £2,600 damage was caused to the city walls.

The trio had initially declined to pay restitution and they received the six month jail sentence.

The county court was told £2,600 was now available.

Judge Philip Babington ordered that £1,300 restitution be paid to the Northern Ireland Agency and a further £1,300 be donated to the Foyle Search and Rescue.

Gary Donnelly (44) of Iniscarn Road, 56-year-old Terry Porter, of Carnhill and 51-year-old William Anthony Brogan, of Elaghmore Park, were convicted of causing damage to the city walls on February 1, last year.

Imposing the conditional discharge, Judge Babington said ‘this was a serious offence because one of the city’s most famous landmarks was defaced, albeit temporarily’.

‘The walls of this city belong to all people who live in this city and are responsible for attracting many thousands of people to this city’.

He said that after consulting with the defendants legal representatives he would allow half of the money to be donated to Foyle Search and Rescue ‘a charity which benefits all who reside in this city and those who visit this city’.

There was a heavy police presence both inside and outside the court house and there was around 50 people in attendance at a protest outside.

A number of TD’s and other Independent councillors were also present for the hearing.

Following the successful appeal the packed public gallery began to clap and cheer.

Speaking outside the court, Councillor Donnelly said the money was donated by people of this city and he is ‘relieved’ half of it is going to charity.

He said he is ‘glad to be able to continue my work for those who voted for me’.

Cllr Donnelly said he does not regret his actions and ‘I defend the right of people to use graffiti as a way of getting their message across’.

He further claimed that ‘more damage was done to the walls by the installation of lights and the building of the Millennium Forum’.