Councillor in court over Harney paint attack

A councillor has appeared in court charged with assaulting Health Minister Mary Harney who was splattered with paint at a hospital in west Dublin last month.

A councillor has appeared in court charged with assaulting Health Minister Mary Harney who was splattered with paint at a hospital in west Dublin last month.

Minister Harney had red paint thrown at her during a sod-turning ceremony for a new primary care and mental health unit at Cherry Orchard Hospital on November 1 last.

Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan, a member of the Eirigi party, had been charged at Ballyfermot Garda Station on November 23 last and made her first court appearance today in relation to the incident.

At Dublin District Court a certificate detailing evidence of her arrest was furnished to Judge Denis McLoughlin.

Ms Minihan (aged 29) of Knock Riada, Chapelizod, in Dublin, who was dressed in a black coat, boots and trousers, is charged with assaulting Mary Harney and criminal damage of the Minister's clothing.

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charge under section six of the Public Order Act for engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour was withdrawn by the State.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 DPP had directed “summary disposal” which means the case is to be kept in the jurisdiction of the District Court.

Defence solicitor Kieran Conway told Judge McLoughlin that he had received copies of the prosecution statements.

He asked for time to take instructions from his client and for the case to be put back until after Christmas.

The court Garda sergeant confirmed that “a large amount of statements and the custody record has been handed over.”

Judge McLoughlin remanded Ms Minihan on bail to appear again on January 10 next 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 brief court appearance this morning, was elected to the city council to represent Dublin's South Central area in 2007 when she was a member of Sinn Féin.

However she later left Sinn Féin and is now a member of socialist republican party Eirigi.

Before the alleged incident 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.

Minister Harney continued with the ceremony after parts of her clothes, her neck, chest and hands were covered in paint

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