A Cork councillor has been remanded along with two other men on charges of criminal damage arising out of a campaign to black out street names in Cork called after Queen Victoria.
Councillor Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, along with Tom O'Connor and Tony Walsh, is a member of the Cork Street Names Campaign which they set up to have the name of the British queen removed from Cork streets.
According to the group, “to honour the name of Victoria, the Famine Queen, in the street names of Cork is an insult to the dignity of the Famine victims and to the self-respect of the people today”.
In a statement issued before they appeared in court today, Cllr Ó Cadhla described the painting out of Queen Victoria’s name as “an act of civil disobedience and an act of conscientious objection”.
On Monday at Cork District Court, Mr Ó Cadhla (56), a member of Cork County Council, appeared on a total of five charges of criminal damage to street signs at three separate locations in Cork city.
He is charged with two counts of criminal damage at Victoria Road, two counts of criminal damage at Victoria Cross and one count of criminal damage at Victoria Street, Military Hill, all in Cork.
The State alleges Mr Ó Cadhla, from Upper Beaumont Drive, Ballintemple, Cork, committed criminal damage at all three locations on February 2nd, 2017, contrary to section 2 (1) of the Criminal Damage Act 1991.
Both Mr O'Connor (56), from Mangerton Close, the Glen, and Mr Walsh (52), from Carrigmore Park, Ballinlough, were each charged with the same five offences at the same locations on the same date.
When Mr Ó Cadhla’s case was called, he began speaking in Irish and argued that he was entitled under the Constitution to have the case against him heard in Irish.
Judge Olann Kelleher said he was fully entitled to give his evidence in Irish, but he was not entitled to have the case in its entirety heard in Irish and he himself would need an interpreter to assist him.
Judge Kelleher advised Mr Ó Cadhla to get himself a solicitor to assist him on that point and on his defence to the charges and he asked Mr Ó Cadhla to submit a statement of means on his earnings.
Judge Kelleher explained that he was obliged on behalf of the people to ensure that Mr Ó Cadhla was incapable of paying for his own solicitor before granting him free legal for a solicitor.
Mr Ó Cadhla said he was working part-time and when he mentioned he had a council meeting on a particular date, the judge reminded him to include his council income in his statement of means.
Judge Kelleher granted Mr O’Connor free legal aid. Judge Kelleher adjourned the cases against all three accused until December 4th for either a plea in the case or to fix a date for hearing if they decide to contest the charges against them.