Councillor in court over paint attack on Harney
A COUNCILLOR yesterday appeared in court charged with assault after a paint attack on Health Minister Mary Harney.
Louise Minihan, who represents the left-wing group Eirigi on Dublin City Council, has been charged with assault and criminal damage following the incident last month.
The attack happened at a sod-turning ceremony to mark the construction of a new primary care and mental health centre in Cherry Orchard Hospital, Ballyfermot, west Dublin, and left Ms Harney with red paint on her hands, chest and clothes.
Ms Minihan (29) of Knock Riada, Chapelizod, appeared before Dublin District Court charged with common assault and criminal damage to Ms Harney's dress.
A certificate detailing the arrest of Ms Minihan was given to Judge Denis McLoughlin during the brief hearing held in the Courts of Criminal Justice.
She had been charged at Ballyfermot garda station on November 23. Another charge, under section six of the Public Order Act, for engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour was withdrawn by the State.
Judge McLoughlin heard that the Director of Public Prosecutions had directed "summary disposal", which means the case is to be kept in the jurisdiction of the District Court.
Ms Minihan was remanded on bail to appear again on January 10 when she is to indicate her pleas to the charges.
Judge McLoughlin also said that "due to the nature of the charges", he was granting legal aid to the defendant after a statement of her means was handed in to court.
Ms Minihan, who remained silent during her appearance, was elected to the city council to represent the Ballyfermot and Drimnagh area in 2007 when she was a member of Sinn Fein.
She was a high-profile member of the party and was a key activist for the party's Dublin South-Central TD Aengus O Snodaigh. She left Sinn Fein about a year ago.
At the incident in which the minister was splattered with paint, protesters had been locked outside the gates of the site when Ms Harney arrived.
A peaceful picket had been staged by the Save Cherry Orchard Hospital Campaign, a respite care and full-time beds unit for Alzheimer's and dementia patients, which recently lost a 22-bed ward.
Ms Harney continued with the ceremony after parts of her clothes, neck, chest and hands were covered in paint.