Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan has refused to pay a fine of 1,500 euro she received in court last Friday, for dripping red paint on the former Health Minister Mary Harney.
The Minister was taking part in a public relations event when the incident occurred. Known for her public health cutbacks, Harney was left with what appeared to be bloodied hands as she posed for photographs at the launch of a construction project in west Dublin.
The incident focussed national and international media attention at Harney’s attempts to privatise the health care system.
Throughout the heavily-policed trial, Judge Watkins expressed annoyance at the fact that Minihan did not plead guilty.
Councillor Minihan never took the stand at the case but the former Minister did give evidence to the court.
“The paint was on my shoulders and neck and on my woolen coat and dress underneath, and my boots were damaged,” Mary Harney said.
“I do not think it is an acceptable form of protest in a democracy.”
The eirigi councillor was told to pay a charitable donation to the charity of Ms Harney’s choice, but Ms Minihan refused this, offering instead to pay a donation to Cherry Orchard Hospital, where the incident took place.
This appeared to further infuriate the judge, and the councillor was handed a two-month suspended sentence as well as the fine after she was found guilty.
Speaking afterwards, Councillor Minihan said her actions were a “legitimate form of political protest” and that she had “no intention” of paying the fine.
“It was a symbolic act,” said the mother of one.
“This was a political protest and I stand over it. It was a legitimate form of protest against the minister and the Government, which has overseen the destruction of our health service.
“It was diluted red paint that I used, it was more symbolic of the blood that she has on her hands for the decisions she made as health minister.”