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Jail term for Derry councillor and dissident republican Gary Donnelly who daubed slogans on walls

By George Jackson

A Derry City councillor and leading dissident republican was one of three men jailed for six months after they were convicted of daubing political slogans on a section of the city's historic walls early this year.

Gary Donnelly (43) received the jail sentence six months after he topped the poll in the Creggan ward in last May's local government elections. Because his sentence exceeds three months, he automatically loses his seat as an Independent member of Derry City Council.

Donnelly, from Iniscairn Road in Creggan, together with William Brogan (51) from Carnhill and Terry Porter (56) from Racecourse Road, were all convicted last September of causing criminal damage by painting anti-internment slogans on the walls.

Their sentencing was adjourned until yesterday to enable them to produce in court £2,292 in compensation for the damage they caused.

Their solicitor, Paddy MacDermott, told District Judge Barney McElholm that the money was not in court.

"Someone is prepared to pay the money but the three defendants vetoed that offer," he said.

"There is a long tradition in this city of painting the city walls. Tourists have come to this city to see the walls which have been painted. It did not happen in a contentious area such as the section of the walls overlooking the loyalist Fountain estate.

"It was on the side of the walls overlooking the Bogside. No complaints were received from residents and there is no record of any offence being taken by them.

"If Mr Donnelly receives a sentence of three months or more, he will lose his seat as a sitting councillor and his voters would be disenfranchised," Mr MacDermott said.

Jailing the three co-defendants, Mr McElholm said they had failed to pay reparation for the damage they'd caused. All three plan to appeal.

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