Wednesday 29 January 2020

TD who left posters up will appeal €3,000 fine

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock. Photo: Tom Burke
Fine Gael TD Noel Rock. Photo: Tom Burke

Tom Tuite

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock will appeal after being fined more than €3,000 for breaking litter laws with his "keep the recovery going" posters.

The 28-year-old Dublin North West TD with an address at Hardiman Road, Drumcondra was summoned to appear in court on nine counts under the 1997 Litter Pollution Act in relation to his posters.

The case was heard at Dublin District Court yesterday - however, he did not attend the hearing, which proceeded in his absence. The charges were brought by Dublin City Council.

Evidence was given by three litter wardens and the court was given photos of posters put up around his constituency, some including the "keep the recovery going" slogan and information about a clinic on January 14.

The court heard that two posters were unlawfully still on display at Prospect Road on February 3. Litter wardens spotted four more of the posters in the area on January 28. They found another at Collins Avenue on January 26.

The general election was not called until February 3. Council litter wardens also found one of his election posters left up too long after the February 26 vote.

Judge John O'Neill noted Mr Rock had no prior convictions.

Judge O'Neill imposed nine fines, each worth €350, totalling €3,150. He also acceded to prosecution counsel Karen Denning's application to order Mr Rock pay €221 in legal costs.

Mr Rock, who was elected to the Dail in the 2016 general election, is the youngest Fine Gael Dublin TD, representing the Ballymun electoral area.

Last night he said: "After returning 100pc of my expenses to Dublin City Council, I'm disappointed with how they've handled this - mostly it's down to administrative and communications errors.

"Naturally, I'm only human, and this is all a bit embarrassing. I'll be appealing the decision but, if the judge's decision stands, it will prove to be an incredibly expensive public meeting, costing about €100 per attendee."

Meanwhile, Independent councillor Cieran Perry pleaded guilty to Litter Pollution Act charges in relation to posters on a water protest in Dublin on January 23 last.

Litter wardens spotted them on February 3 and the council argued they should have been taken down within seven days of the event. He claimed they were exempt and as part of his election campaign, he reused posters due to limited resources.

Judge O'Neill said Cllr Perry, who represents the Cabra Finglas ward in Dublin, was a decent man but the law was against him. However, he gave him a chance to avoid a conviction and told him the case would be struck out if he paid €221 in prosecution costs and €500 to St Vincent de Paul.

Irish Independent

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