herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Councillor forced to delete water charge court case photos

A CITY councillor broke strict rules by publishing a picture from inside the courtroom where five water charge protesters were handed down prison sentences for contempt.

John Lyons from the People Before Profit Alliance tweeted an image from inside courtroom 22 in the Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) moments after the protesters were jailed for between 28 and 56 days on Thursday.

There were chaotic scenes following the sentencing, with one of the jailed protesters, Bernie Hughes, responding to the judges' ruling by shouting: "That's disgraceful."

Publishing a photo from inside an Irish court is a breach of the rules. The Courts Service last night confirmed it was aware of the incident.

"This image was taken without the permission or know-ledge of the service or the judge," a spokesman said.

"We have contacted the person who tweeted this image and informed them that the rules of court do not allow for the capture of images in such circumstances."

Members of the public can be reprimanded for breaching court rules on photography if a complaint is made, with the sanction imposed at the discretion of the judge.

No complaint has been made, and Mr Lyons deleted the Twitter post yesterday, denying that he meant any intentional disrespect to the court.

unaware

"Obviously I was completely unaware that taking an image was against the rule of the court. I wouldn't do it if I were actually aware of the rules," he said.

"When I became aware that it was against the rules of the court to take a picture from inside the court room I moved to delete the text from my Twitter account."

Northside councillor Mr Lyons has been at the forefront of the campaign opposing household water charges.

He is currently under fire after a council investigation found he had spent €3,800 of public funds printing 100,000 anti-water charge leaflets.

On Thursday, the High Court committed five protesters to prison for breaching an order restraining them from going within a 20-metre exclusion zone surrounding installation works.

Damien O'Neill (46), of Greenwood Park, Coolock, and Paul Moore, of Mount Olive Grove, Kilbarrack, were sentenced to 56 days.

Ms Hughes, of McKelvey Avenue, Finglas, and Derek Byrne (36), of Streamville Road, Donaghmede, were sent to prison for 28 days.

Michael Batty (64), of Edenmore Avenue, Raheny, had a stay put on his committal to prison until Tuesday because he is currently out of the country for health reasons.

The court heard his chronic asthma requires him to be in a dry and sunny climate and was told he has not had contact with the criminal justice system before. His solicitor, Cahir O'Higgins, told Mr Justice Gilligan that Mr Batty is "eager to purge his contempt".

hnews@herald.ie

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