'Convicted' | 

Gemma O’Doherty fined €750 for breaching Covid restrictions to attend Cork protest

The court also heard testimony that, at the protest, O'Doherty had claimed national broadcaster RTÉ was "spreading lies" at the behest of the Government.

Gemma O'Doherty pictured at Bray District Court before a previous appearance. Photo: Gerry Mooney

File photo of Gemma O'Doherty

Ralph RiegelIndependent.ie

Conspiracy theorist Gemma O'Doherty was fined €750 in her absence at Cork District Court after being convicted of breaching Covid-19 pandemic lockdown controls by travelling from Dublin to attend a protest where she claimed the virus was only a hoax.

The court also heard testimony that, at the protest, O'Doherty had claimed national broadcaster RTÉ was "spreading lies" at the behest of the Government.

The former journalist, who has also been a European, General and Presidential election challenger, was prosecuted arising out of an anti-lockdown protest staged in Cork at Christmas 2020.

Judge Marian O'Leary heard it was alleged that O'Doherty had left her home in Dublin to attend an anti-Covid 19 restrictions protest being staged on the Grand Parade in Cork on December 12, 2020.

File photo of Gemma O'Doherty

Sergeant Tim McAuliffe told the court that the 54-year-old, with an address in Shankill, Dublin, was among the protestors.

He said the group of people were holding placards protesting about the Covid-19 lockdown and they were also encouraging the public not to wear protective face masks.

The garda said that at 4.25pm O'Doherty addressed the crowd.

Sgt McAuliffe said she addressed the group on the subject of the lockdown, insisting that the virus was a "hoax".

He said she further claimed that: "RTÉ was spreading lies on behalf of the Government" about Covid-19.

The group then went to the studios of RTÉ Cork before heading to the constituency office of Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Evergreen Road in the city.

Sgt McAuliffe said the group then went back into the Grand Parade.

Shortly after 7pm, he said he engaged O'Doherty in conversation and asked her if she had a reasonable excuse to leave her county.

He said O'Doherty began recording him telling him that he didn't know the Constitution or his oath and that she was on "essential duties".

The garda stated that from what he observed she was not carrying out any journalistic duties and was instead actively engaging in protest at the restrictions in place in the country.

Det Garda Steven Dennehy of the Scenes of Crimes Unit said he took pictures at the scene of the protest.

He told Judge O'Leary that O'Doherty addressed the crowd and that footage of the protest was subsequently put online by those in attendance.

A clip of footage from the protest was played in court.

Det Garda Dennehy said he arrived at the Grand Parade at 2.50pm and took a series of photographs of people who were in attendance at the protest.

He took 137 photographs including images of O'Doherty addressing the crowd.

Inspector Ann Marie Guiney said that O'Doherty had claimed that she was present in Cork for "essential journalistic services".

She stated that such a claim was not a reasonable excuse for travelling from Dublin to Cork and that O'Doherty wasn't in Cork in an independent capacity to report but was instead a participant in the protest.

Inspector Guiney said that O'Doherty had left her county contrary to the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place at the time.

The court heard that O'Doherty had three previous convictions.

She did not have legal representation in court.

At the start of the case Judge O'Leary asked if the defendant had been notified of her case and she was told that O'Doherty had been informed.

The name "Gemma O'Doherty" was repeatedly called outside the courtroom to ensure that she wasn't in attendance in the body of the Anglesea Street courthouse.

Judge O'Leary convicted and fined O'Doherty €750, allowing her five months to pay the amount.

O'Doherty was convicted of breaching a provision of a regulation made under Section 31 (A) of the Health Act, 1947 as amended to prevent, limit, minimise or slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos