UK court fines Dolores Cahill for 'flagrant breach of restrictions' at anti-lockdown protest

UK court fines Dolores Cahill for 'flagrant breach of restrictions' at anti-lockdown protest

Former UCD Professor, Dolores Cahill, helped organise a demonstration involving around 1,000 people in Trafalgar Square for the activist group Stand Up X. File Picture: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

Dolores Cahill has been fined £2,500 (almost €3,000) for holding an anti-lockdown protest in “flagrant breach” of Covid restrictions, a court heard.

Ms Cahill, 55, a former professor at University College Dublin (UCD), helped organise a demonstration involving around 1,000 people in Trafalgar Square for the activist group Stand Up X, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday.

At the time, on September 19, 2020, gatherings of more than 30 were prohibited unless organised by a political body with a risk assessment in place, the court heard.

Statements from police officers and body-worn footage presented at Cahill’s trial revealed she had not submitted a risk assessment to police or Westminster City Council ahead of the demonstration.

District Judge Michael Oliver found her guilty of one charge of holding a gathering of more than 30 people on land in public outdoor place during the emergency period.

He determined her weekly income to be £2,000 and ordered she pay a fine of £2,500 along with a £190 (€225) surcharge and prosecution costs of £625 (€740).

“I am satisfied so that I am sure that Ms Cahill was involved in the holding of this gathering," he said.

“It doesn’t seem to me any of the exemptions in place at the time were met in this case. Ms Cahill’s position from the footage appears to have vacillated from that there was a risk assessment on a laptop to that it could be submitted retrospectively.

It seems to me that the defendant’s culpability is high. This was a flagrant breach of the regulations that were put in place to ensure public safety at the time of a national emergency – a pandemic.

“The measures were plainly for a good reason – to protect people.

“There were plainly far more people than 30 present at this protest and the evidence suggests about 1,000 people.

“Plainly there was risk of harm to people attending and to others at the risk of transmission of Covid.” 

The court also heard how Cahill, of Ranelagh, Dublin, a former chair of the Irish Freedom Party, had previously been handed a £10,000 (€11820) fixed penalty notice but “did not answer it”.

The judge was told how she had also been sent the evidence which was to be used against her and summoned to court on multiple occasions but had not attended or entered a plea so the trial was held in her absence.

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