Eleven men fined for attending dissident parade in Derry

Petrol bombs were thrown at police during riots as the Easter Monday parade passed

Thomas Ashe Mellon (43), Rathmore Road, Derry appearing in court in connection with the 2018 dissident republican parade. Photograph: Trevor McBride

Thomas Ashe Mellon (43), Rathmore Road, Derry appearing in court in connection with the 2018 dissident republican parade. Photograph: Trevor McBride

 

Eleven men have been fined for taking part in an illegal dissident republican march in Derry last year.

Petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at the police during rioting as a colour party paraded through the Creggan area of Derry on Easter Monday 2018.

Joseph Patrick Barr (31), Sackville Court; Gearoid Peter Cavanagh (30), Northland Road; Jason Lee Anna Ceulemans (age unknown), Long Tower Court; Gary Hayden (46), Tyrconnell Street; William Martin McDonnell (32), Harvey Street; Paul McIntyre (51), Ballymagowan Park; Patrick Mellon (27), John Field Place; Thomas Ashe Mellon (43), Rathmore Road; John Patrick Nash (65), Fergleen Park; Christopher Paul O’Kane (45), Iniscarn Road, all in Derry City, and Andrew Carlin (31), Woodvale Mews in Eglinton, Co Derry, were each convicted of a single charge of taking part in an unnotified procession in Central Drive in Derry on April 2nd 2018.

Each of the defendants – who denied the charge — declined to give any evidence in court and made no comment during police interviews.

They were each fined £750.

A case against a twelfth man was adjourned after a defence barrister told the court that the summons had been issued to the wrong man and the police had no case against her client.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) must receive notification of all prospective parades in Northern Ireland. If a notification is not received, anybody organising or taking part in the parade is committing an offence and could face prosecution.

A police witness told the court that on the morning of the march police had attempted to give organisers an “eleventh hour” opportunity to notify them of the parade, but they had not done so.

He confirmed that before the parade began police had warned participants both verbally – via a recorded message played from a police vehicle – and visually, through placards displayed on the site of police Land Rovers, that the parade was illegal.

PSNI Chief Inspector Jonathan Hunter told the court that police believed the march was going to take place and there was a likelihood that paramilitary-style uniforms would be worn.

“I was also aware that petrol bombs were being prepared, which necessitated an increase in our deployment,” he said.

The court was shown police CCTV footage of youths with their faces covered throwing petrol bombs and other missiles at Police Land Rovers while the colour party marched through Creggan.

Police witnesses said the defendants were identified through the CCTV footage.

District Judge Barney McElholm said the police’s evidence was quite clear that this had been an unnotified procession.

He said that police had no intention whatsoever of stopping the parade, and had it been notified they would not have intervened.

The police had to attend the parade, he said, because there may have been “people goose-stepping about in paramilitary garb, which is an offence,” and petrol bombs were being prepared to attack police.

Mr McElholm said it was clear the march had led to “serious public disorder and a display of paramilitary activity.”

“However, none of [the defendants] are charged with that”, he said.

He said that while he felt there were “far too many processions in this country”, people have a right to parade, and had the parade been notified to police it would have been allowed to go ahead, with the organisers held responsible for any displays of paramilitarism.

The defendants “each face one charge of taking part in an unnotified profession and not anything else,” Mr McElholm said.

“There is no evidence before me that any individual arrested was involved in the riot or in any way involved in organising the so-called colour party.”