‘Prominent republicans’ released on bail

Bishop Street court.
Bishop Street court.

Two ‘prominent republicans’ who breached bail conditions by holding a press conference in a ‘base for republican activists’ have been re-released.

Thomas Ashe Mellon and Gary Hayden also had a number of bail conditions removed by the local court.

Mellon, (41), of Rathmore Road, and 45-year-old Gary Hayden, of Tyrconnell Street, are charged with taking part in an unnotified public procession on April 2.

Both men refused to recognise the court and remained seated when the charge was read to them.

They were arrested after holding a press conference at Junior McDaid House earlier this week to highlight the bail conditions imposed on them by police.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard the conditions included a prohibition on entering Chamberlain Street and from being in the company of three or more people in a public place.

Mellon and Hayden were also banned from being in the company of co-accused and from going within 500 metres of an ongoing police operation.

An investigating officer told the court the defendants had ‘blatantly breached’ bail by holding the press conference in Junior McDaid House.

He added that police opposed bail because they do no believe the men will adhere to any conditions.

Under cross-examination by defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott, the officer confirmed there is no evidence that the defendants took part in the colour party of the Easter commemoration or in any of the violent disorder.

He also confirmed that he was unaware of any other unnotified republican parades which had taken place in the city in the last year.

Mr MacDermott told the court his clients had made an application to vary their bail conditions because they were ‘disproportionate’.

He said the conditions were not necessary to prevent a further breach of the law or to ensure the safety of police or the public.

District Judge Barney McElholm said the defendants should have had the ‘courtesy’ to wait until the application to vary the bail conditions was ruled on by the court before holding a press conference.

He added: “It’s trial by media. We saw that with the Belfast rape case. Everyone goes running to the media or social media with these things. This is where justice is done.”

“We are living in the middle of Groundhog Day. I don’t know if this place will ever change and I, for one, am getting extremely weary of it.”

Judge McElholm released Mellon and Hayden on their own bail of £500 and banned them from taking part in any unnotified parade.

The defendants are also prohibited from knowingly going within 500 metres of any police operation.

However, the judge removed the two other conditions that had been imposed by police.

Mellon and Hayden will appear in court again on April 25.