Curfew changed for Londonderry man to canvas in elections

DERRY Bishop's Street Court house
Image caption The application was opposed by a police officer who said Mr Donnelly has 29 previous criminal convictions

A district judge has changed curfew conditions to allow a Londonderry man to canvas in council elections in May.

Gary Donnelly, 43, from Iniscarn Road in the Creggan area of the city, is on court bail charged with painting political slogans on the city's walls.

Mr Donnelly, who intends to stand as an independent candidate, had been ordered to observe an 20:00 GMT to 08:00 curfew.

This has now been changed to 22:00 to 08:00.

Donnelly's solicitor applied to have the curfew hours varied on the grounds that his client's ability to canvas during the local government election campaign would be "seriously interfered with".

The application was opposed by a police officer who said Mr Donnelly has 29 previous criminal convictions, six of them for assaulting police officers, six for public order offences and one for arson.

The officer said the offence Mr Donnelly is charged with allegedly took place during the hours of darkness. He said one officer observed Donnelly for two minutes from a distance of 10 feet, not only painting on the walls but also orchestrating and encouraging others to do so.

The officer said the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency said the cost of removing the paint was £2,292, which, he said, would have to be met by the public purse.

"He wants to stand in elections for a civic office and for a position which involves uprightness and integrity," said the officer.

Mr Donnelly's solicitor suggested suspending the curfew until after the elections were over, otherwise Mr Donnelly's ability to take part in the democratic process "would be inhibited".

Judge McElholm then asked: "Is he going to put up posters or paint his name on walls saying vote Donzo?

"It is clear the democratic process is very dear to Mr Donnelly's heart."

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