PICTURE: Thomas Ashe Mellon, standing to the left, pictured at the Saoradh press conference held in Junior McDaid House on Monday. He is standing beside some of the other men who were arrested following the Easter Monday Republican Commemoration held in Creggan. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
By Ursula Duddy
Two ‘prominent Republicans in the city’ have been released from police custody after being arrested for breaching bail conditions by holding a press conference yesterday.
Thomas Ashe Mellon, 41, from Rathmore Road and Gary Hayden, 45, from Tyrconnell Street were both arrested yesterday following a press conference at Junior McDaid House.
Both men had been charged with taking part in an unnotified public procession on Easter Monday, April 2.
Paddy MacDermott, defence solicitor, said the breaches were not accepted by the men. Neither man stood to recognise the court when the breach of bail charges were made against them.
A police officer in court said the men had breached the conditions of their bail that stated they should not attend Junior McDaid House in Chamberlain Street, that they should not be in the company of three or more people in a public place and that they should not be in contact with their co-accused.
These conditions were breached when the men attended a press conference yesterday to voice protest at how the Easter Monday Commemoration in Creggan has been handled by police.
The officer added that these conditions were imposed to ensure the safety of police and the public in the event of any unnotified parades.
Mr MacDermott said that the next parade expected would be next Easter, a year away, and asked the officer if he was aware of any other unnotified parades that had taken place in the city since last Easter’s commemoration.
The officer said he was aware of an unnotified parade but didn’t want to go into detail as it was still under investigation.
District Judge Barney McElholm asked: ‘Was it a Republican one?’
The officer answered: ‘No.’
The reply was met with laughter in the court.
Judge McElholm said that the men, who had applied to have their bail conditions relaxed, should have had the ‘courtesy’ to wait until it was heard in court before arranging the press conference yesterday.
He added: ‘It’s trial by media, we saw that with the Belfast rape case. Everyone goes running to the media or social media but this is where justice is done.
‘We are living in Groundhog Day; I don’t know if this place is ever going to change and I, for one, am extremely weary of it.’
Mr MacDermott asked that bail be granted and the bail conditions be relaxed.
Judge McElholm granted both men their own bail of £500. He warned both they must not take part in any unnotified parade and must not knowingly be within 500m of any ongoing police operation.
He removed the conditions of gathering in a crowd of three or more and having contact with co-accused.
As the men were led away, a large number of supporters within the public gallery applauded.
To which Judge McElholm replied: ‘Well, thank you very much.’
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