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Republican councillor supported by TDs has jail sentence for graffiti overturned

Gary Donnelly had been sentenced to six months in jail for daubing an anti-internment slogan on Derry’s walls.

Anti-internment slogan on Derry's city walls. (File photo)
Anti-internment slogan on Derry's city walls. (File photo)
Image: Flickr/WillBaker

A DERRY COUNCILLOR and dissident republican has had his jail sentence for painting graffiti on the walls of Derry overturned.

Gary Donnelly had been sentenced to six months in jail for daubing an anti-internment slogan city’s historic walls, a sentence which would have forced him out of the council seat he won last May.

Donnelly’s sentence was dismissed yesterday and instead himself and his two co-accused will make a donation to the Foyle Search and Rescue organisation as well as to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Donnelly’s supporters in the courtroom included councillors from both sides of the border as well as four TDs, Independents Clare Daly, Thomas Pringle and Maureen O’Sullivan as well as Fianna Fáil’s Eamon O’Cuiv.

West Donegal councillor Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig was also in court supporting Donnelly. He told TheJournal.ie that Derry’s walls have been used “for centuries” as a medium for political activism.

photo Gary Donnelly in the foreground backed by supporters including four TDs. Source: Cllr. Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig

“What I believe is that graffiti is a legitimate form of political expression,” he said. “People come from all over the world to see murals and political slogans on the city’s walls.”

“I think it’s notable that Donnelly’s actions took place only yards where 14 people marching for human rights were killed by the British Army,” he added.

Mac Giolla Easbuig claimed that he believes Donnelly’s case made it to court because he was providing “an alternative” to the people of Derry and that “we would not be here if Donnelly was not an elected representative”.

Read: Two injured during anti-internment parade in Belfast >

Read: There are 62 republican prisoners being held at present in Irish prisons >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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