Catherine Martin stands by advisor after 1990s drug conviction revealed

Catherine Martin stands by advisor after 1990s drug conviction revealed
Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin. File picture: Leah Farrell/

Culture Minister and deputy Green Party leader Catherine Martin has said she is standing by a member of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce after it was revealed he has a conviction for a drugs offence.

Sunil Sharpe was a minor when he received a suspended sentence for the drugs offence 24 years ago, in 1996. He has since become one of the country's most respected techno djs.

The cross-departmental Night-Time Economy Taskforce was announced last Thursday with a brief to consult with agencies and other stakeholders to develop initiatives to boost the country's night-time culture and economy. 

Mr Sharpe was appointed by Minister Martin to the taskforce as an advisor on night-time culture and economy. He is a member of Give Us The Night, which campaigns for positive changes to nightlife in Ireland, with particular regard to music venues.

Speaking at its launch, Minister Martin had said she was particularly pleased that Mr Sharpe had agreed to participate, though it has been reported that at the time she was not aware of his past conviction.

In a statement released today, Sunil Sharpe said: "This story relates to my conviction as a minor for drugs offences 24 years ago (1996), when I spent a short time in juvenile detention and eventually received a suspended jail sentence.

"I was what many would refer to as a "troubled youth". I made a lot of wrong decisions but ultimately I learned from them. My life immediately changed, I stayed drug free, and I spent an extended time with the probation service during my rehabilitation.

"My entire adulthood has been spent drug free.

"Misic, DJing, Techno - all of these things combined - gave me purpose in life during what was a very difficult time for myself, my family and especially my mother. I don't look back on those days wth fondness, however I am glad to have learnt my lessons so early in life.

I never forget the mistakes I made, but my character is not defined by them. It is, I hope, defined by the changes I made to my life since then.

Green Party TD Patrick Costello has said people who have served their sentence should be allowed to move on.

He said: "If (the conviction) had happened a few years later, there would be no story because the Children's Act 2001 would prevent the name being reported, which is a really positive move.

"I think we need to look at the spent convictions legislation we have so that people who have turned their lives around and are not offending again, don't carry that (other offence) with them forever.

"We welcome them back into society and we let them get on with re-building their life."

We have reached out to Minister Martin's office for additional comment.

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