19 May 2022

Six convicted of wearing clothing in support of proscribed organisation

Six people were this week convicted at Derry Magistrate's of wearing clothing that roused suspicion they were members or supporters of a proscribed organisation, the IRA.

Derry courthouse

Six people were this week convicted at Derry Magistrate's of wearing clothing that roused suspicion they were members or supporters of a proscribed organisation, the IRA.
The six were all charged in connection with a parade in Derry on 17 April 2017 which was led by a uniformed colour party.
They are Mark Canning (43), of St Eithne's Park, James Anthony Kelly (59), of Chamberlain Street, Eamonn Barry Millar (35), of Raftery Close and Emmet McSheffrey (20), of Oakland Park, Brian Maguire (40). of Hazelwood, all in Derry, and Lorna Margaret Brady (45), of Drumallagh both in Strabane.
The court was shown footage of the parade making its way along Westland Street led by a uniformed colour party.
The court was told that the parade then made its way to Derry City Cemetery where an oration was made.
The case was contested on submissions as there was no dispute over the actual evidence.
Eoghan Devlin, defence counsel for Canning, Kelly and Millar, said the case hinged solely on the clothing worn by the defendants
.He said the parade was a lawful parade as permission had been sought and given and he added “those who parade in support of proscribed organisations do not seek permission.”
The barrister said the parade was to commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916 and not dead IRA volunteers or the like.
Mr Devlin also saidflags carried by the colour party were also significant as they were of the four provinces of Ireland and the Tricolour and there were no flags representing “terrorist organisations.”
The court was told that during the oration in the cemetery there was no mention of dissident republican organisations, just the Easter Rising.
Mark O'Connor, counsel for McSheffrey, said the case had not been made that the parade had been commemorating anything other that the 1916 Easter Rising.
He added there was a variety of clothing worn by people at the parade including uniforms and historical garb.
A representative for the prosecution service said the term “unfinished revolution” had been used on the website of Junior McDaid House advertising the patade.
He added there was a flag representing the group Saoradh at the march and said Saoradh was linked to dissident republican organisations.
He said people attending the parade would have been led to believe it was connected to that organisation.
Mr Devlin argued the claim there was a Saoradh flag was “factually wrong” in that the flag being referred to was a Fianna flag.
District Judge, Barney McElholm, said no one would dispute those dressed in historical garb were committing any offence.
He said the Easter Rising was commemorated every year and while “there are people in these Six Counties who object vehemently to 1916 and all that flowed from that,” but added “that is not the problem here.”
The judge said he had to ask himself why people were “walking down an urban street wearing camouflage,” something he said he could never understand.
He said anyone in a “reasonable frame of mind” would conclude that people in camouflage were in support of “some sort of military solution.”
Judge McElholm said “even the dogs in the street” knew these people were supporting a proscribed organisation and he had no doubt anyone observing that parade would have reached the same conclusion.
Convicting all six accused, Mr McElholm imposed a two month prison sentence on each, suspended for two years.

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