Eleven men convicted of taking part in illegal Easter Monday parade in Derry

Eleven men have been fined £750 each for taking part in an illegal Republican parade.

Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 5:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 5:28 pm
Thomas Ashe Mellon, one of the eleven men convicted of taking part in the unnotified parade

The parade took place in Creggan on April 2, last year.

It was proceeded by public disorder in the area and petrol bombs and masonry were thrown at police.

The eleven men convicted of taking part in the illegal parade included: Joseph Patrick Barr, 31, of Sackville Court, Andrew Carlin, 31, of Woodvale Mews, Eglinton, Gearoid Peter Cavanagh, 30, of Northland Road, Jason Lee Ceulemans, of Long Tower Court, Gary Hayden, 46, of Tyrconnell Street, William Martin McDonnell, 32, of Harvey Street and Paul McIntyre, 51, of Ballymagowan Park.

Also found guilty were Patrick Mellon, 27, of John Field Place, Thomas Ashe Mellon, 43, of Rathmore Road, John Patrick Nash, 65, of Fergleen Park and Christopher O’Kane, 45, of Iniscarn Road.

The case against a 12th man has been adjourned for two weeks.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard the men were identified by police during controlled viewings of video evidence gathered on that day.

A Chief Inspector told the court that police became aware through social media there was going to be a parade on Easter Monday and further information received suggested there would be people wearing ‘paramilitary style uniforms’.

He said police tried to engage with the community in order to reach a resolution prior to the parade, however these attempts were unsuccessful

He said he initially deployed a minimum of officers to gather evidence, but had to increase the numbers because of the public disorder and the risk to police in the area.

Another inspector told the court he went to Junior McDaid House earlier that day to deliver a letter advising anyone organising or participating in the parade that they may be liable for arrest or prosecution.

He added that he was one of the commanders in the Creggan area on the day in question and an audio recording of a similar warning was played on a loop.

The inspector said there were banners on the side of the police land rovers also advising organisers and participants it was an illegal parade.

The court also heard from two of the officers involved in identifying those taking part in the parade.

One of them identified a total of 16 people, including some who were not charged with the offence, while the other identified around a dozen.

Defence barristers and solicitors for the eleven men did not challenge any of the evidence and on the instruction of their clients did not make any submissions.

None of the defendants gave any evidence on their own behalf.

Convicting the men, District Judge Barney McElholm said: “The evidence of the police officers is clear. This was an unnotified procession within the terms of the legislation.”

“We have heard police had no intention whatsoever of stopping or interfering with this parade. If they had been notified I am not sure they would have done much at all but observe from a distance.”

He said police had ‘reason to believe there may be people goose stepping about in paramilitary garb, which is an offence, and that there may be preparations being made to attack any police who may be in the area.

“They moved in, observed those participating in the parade and identified a number of people.”

The judge said that the laws about parades were ‘brought in for a reason. We have far too many processions in this country for a start’.

He added that whether people agree with the law of not ‘they are bound by it as that is the way society has to work’.

The judge convicted the 11 men and imposed the £750 fine and a collection order. He said that if the fines were not paid within 26 weeks the fine collection agency will take over and try to recover it through due legal process.