Councillor among three charged with criminal damage over street names

The investigation into the blacking out of street signs named after Britain’s Queen Victoria resulted in a councillor and two other men being charged at Cork District Court yesterday.

Tony Walsh, Tom O'Connor, and Cork county councillor Diarmuid Ó Cadhla outside Cork District Court yesterday. Pic: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, aged 56, of 8 Upper Beaumont Drive, Ballintemple, Cork, was charged with five counts of criminal damage to street signs at three separate locations in Cork City.

Mr Ó Cadhla is charged with two counts of criminal damage at Victoria Rd, two counts of criminal damage at Victoria Cross, and one count of criminal damage at Victoria St, Military Hill, on February 2.

Two co-accused — Thomas O’Connor, aged 56, from 44 Mangerton Close, The Glen, and Tony Walsh, aged 52, from 25 Carrigmore Park, Ballinlough — were both charged with the same five counts.

Judge Olann Kelleher adjourned the cases against all three accused until December 4 for either a plea of guilty or to fix a date for hearing the cases if they decide to contest the charges.

A group called Cork Street Names Campaign was set up to have streets in Cork named after the British monarch changed. The group stated yesterday: “To honour the name of Victoria, the Famine Queen, in the street names of Cork is an insult to the dignity of the Famine victims and to the self-respect of the people today.”

In a statement before appearing in court, Mr Ó Cadhla described the painting out of Queen Victoria’s name as “an act of civil disobedience and an act of conscientious objection”.

When the case was called at Cork District Court, Mr Ó Cadhla began speaking in Irish and argued that he was entitled, under the Constitution, to have the case against him heard in Irish.

Judge Kelleher said he was fully entitled to give his evidence in Irish but that he was not entitled to have the case in its entirety heard in Irish and he himself would need an interpreter to assist him.

Judge Kelleher advised Mr Ó Cadhla to get himself a solicitor to assist him on that point and on his defence. He asked the accused to submit a statement of means, on his earnings, including his earnings as a councillor, if he wanted free legal aid.

Judge Kelleher granted Mr O’Connor free legal aid.

Mr Walsh is to file a statement of means in his application for legal aid.

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