Band members cleared of parade breach

Published Tuesday, 17 December 2013
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Two flute band drummers have been cleared of knowingly breaching parading restrictions outside a Catholic church in north Belfast.

Band members cleared of parade breach
Pride of Ardoyne members pictured at last year's Black Preceptory parade. (© Presseye)

Michael Cosby and Richard Dunn had been accused of playing a tune as they passed St Patrick's Chapel in an act of defiance at conditions imposed.

The pair, both members of the Pride of Ardoyne band, insisted they were unaware that only a single drumbeat was to be played on the contentious stretch of their route.

Eye-sight and reading limitations formed part of the defence case.

The charge against both men was dismissed after a judge at Belfast Magistrates' Court declared them not guilty.

Cosby, 51, of Wheatfield Drive, and Dunn, 26, from Alliance Road - both in north Belfast - were alleged to have knowingly failed to comply with a Parades Commission determination in August last year.

The alleged breach was said to have occurred as their band made its way along Donegall Street into the city centre during the Royal Black Institution parade.

The court heard police had put signs along the route and on Landrovers warning of the restriction.

Despite this, the band appeared to be playing 'The Dambusters' tune as it passed the chapel.

CCTV footage of the incident also showed protestors holding a banner stating: "Respect St Patrick's Church".

A prosecution lawyer argued that band members should have realised from the signs and counter-demonstration that it was not an ordinary situation.

He claimed some others in and following the band were pumping fists in the air in "a concerted act of defiance".

But both men insisted they were never told of the single drumbeat condition and spotted no notifications.

Cosby, a bass drummer who has been in the band for 35 years, told the court he only has vision in one eye.

Dunn, a side drummer who joined Pride of Ardoyne 21 years ago, was equally adamant.

As part of his defence he said his focus was on his two children parading directly in front of him. His limited reading abilities were also cited.

After hearing all the evidence in the case District Judge Amanda Henderson studied the CCTV footage before reaching her verdict.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that a not guilty finding had been made against both defendants.

On that basis the case against them was dismissed.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
23 Comments
john in crumlin wrote (121 days ago):
if his eyesight is that bad and he holds a valid licence then surely that should be revoked??
Michael in Belfast wrote (121 days ago):
Ulysses32 your constant use of the word 'onionists' is getttingboth boring and offensive. Seems that is what your hoping for. Stop being so childish. The word is Unionists and if you can't spell that then maybe you should stop writing silly comments.
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (121 days ago):
Again, I would point you to the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987. The PSNI do have the authority to enforce the law. The Parades Commission has authority to make determinations on parades under the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998 and the PSNI, under various legislation such as The Police and Criminal Evidence (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 and the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987, have the authority to enforce such decisions. The hunting is for criminals not to criminalise. You break the law, you commit a criminal offence. The Parades Commission's exisitence is due to the intransigence of those who seek to impose their mantra on those without due regard of their rights and freedoms. I could not care less who you care about but if you are going to throw a spurious statement out at least have something to back it up otherwise it is nothing but "flegger" rhetoric.
CLJ in response to ulysses32 wrote (122 days ago):
@Ulysses32 Wow thank you for putting me in my place by going to all the bother of checking all this out(that was sarcasm).Lets understand I couldn't care any less if you and your neighbours beat the crap out of each other 24/7..The PC have stated themselves more than once they have no lawful power to ban or impose rulings on parades.I simply noticed that many people on many touchy subjects are prepared to find even the most trivial of reasons to insist that tax payers money be wasted in hunting someone down so they can be criminalized and locked up, and some use the PC to do so which to any rational person is simply an abuse.The PC has only served to entrench people further and keep people behind proxy borders and replaced common sense and justice by bringing politics into the court room.If you can't see that the PC is a perfect example of an abuse of people who live in a false fear of each other then that's your problem but don't expect those of us who want common sense to prevail to do without just because your prepared to dot certain I's and cross certain T's as long as it suits you and NOTE your perception of others.
Donal in belfast wrote (122 days ago):
wat was wrong with my comment??? joke no justice for st patricks church. .how could the judge come to that verdict?
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