Londonderry councillor Gary Donnelly receives six-month prison sentence

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Media captionIf Donnelly loses his appeal against the six-month sentence, he will lose his seat on the Derry-Strabane super council

A Derry councillor and leading dissident republican has been given a six-month prison sentence for causing criminal damage to the city's historic walls.

Gary Donnelly, 43, from Iniscairn Road in the Creggan area, was charged with painting political slogans on the city's walls in February.

Liam Brogan, 51, and Terry Porter, 56, both from Carnhill, also received six-month prison sentences.

All three men have lodged appeals.

An appeal hearing against the sentences is expected to take place in January 2015. Donnelly and the other two defendants have been released on bail.

They denied causing criminal damage by painting anti-internment slogans on a section of the walls overlooking the Bogside area of the city in February 2014.

Veto

A solicitor for Donnelly said: "Writing political slogans had been a long-standing tradition and there were no objections from local residents to the graffiti."

He also told Londonderry Magistrates' Court that tourists had gone to look at the graffiti on the walls overlooking the Bogside.

Image caption The repair bill for cleaning the graffiti off the city's walls totalled £2,292

The judge said the painting of the walls was a "wholly uncalled-for exercise".

He said internment ended "a long time ago", and that it was insulting to the entire legal system to say it continues.

He also told the court that he had no wish to disenfranchise Donnelly's voters, but the councillor and the two other defendants had been given time to pay for the repairs, which totalled £2,292.

The court heard from the defence solicitor that a person had been willing to pay for repairs, but all three defendants vetoed that.

Donnelly was elected to the new Derry-Strabane super council after local government elections in May.

If the appeal is unsuccessful, he will automatically lose his seat.

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