Men and boys charged with flag riot

Published Monday, 10 December 2012
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Six men and six boys charged in connection with rioting in greater Belfast have been banned from going within 500 metres of any further loyalist flag protests.

Men and boys charged with flag riot
Loyalist protesters converge on Belfast City Hall on Saturday. (© Pacemaker)

The restrictions were imposed on the suspects as they appeared before courts in the city accused of being at the scene of street disorder.

A seventh man charged with rioting walked free after a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to connect him to the allegation.

Trouble flared in Belfast and in Newtownabbey at the weekend following more protests at the decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag from the City Hall.

One of those appearing before Belfast Magistrates' Court, Martin Edgeworth, 41 and of Linfield Avenue in the city faces charges of riot, attempted criminal damage and possession of an offensive weapon.

He is accused of attacking a police Land Rover with part of a chair at Shaftesbury Square on Friday.

Also in the dock were four people from Newtownabbey, including Mark Nicholl, 19, of Inveresk Park; Christopher Thompson, 19, of Green End; David Crooks, 18, of Rosslea Way; Jamie Colgan, 22, of Tulleevin Drive and Alan Heaney, 19, with an address at Innisfayle Gardens, Belfast.

They face charges connected with disturbances in the Newtownabbey area on Saturday night.

Police opposed their bail applications, basing their objections on the ongoing tensions.

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall ruled that all could be released on condition that they do not go within 500 metres of any demonstration, parade or protest.

Night-time curfews were also imposed on the suspects.

All six men are due to appear again before the court in January.

However, the riot charge against another 19-year-old man was withdrawn due to a lack of evidence linking him to trouble near Rathcoole.

It emerged that his legal team had also brought emergency High Court proceedings on Sunday to challenge the case being made against him.

Meanwhile, a 13-year-old boy, three aged 14, a 15-year-old and another, aged 16, have appeared before Belfast Youth Court on rioting charges.

They were all granted bail, but also banned from going near any future protests.

© UTV News
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