Judge condemns 'thuggish' flag rioting

Published Thursday, 13 December 2012
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Street disorder linked to ongoing loyalist flag protests is "thuggish rioting" that puts police officers lives at risk, a High Court judge has said.

Judge condemns 'thuggish' flag rioting
A car on fire is extinguished during disorder in the Shaftesbury Square area. (© Pacemaker)

Mr Justice McCloskey hit out at the violence on Thursday after hearing allegations that a teenager threw bricks at officers and kicked a PSNI Landrover.

Johnathan McClelland, 18, of Tavanagh Street, Belfast, faces a single charge of riotous behaviour.

He is accused of being among a crowd of up to 30 who pelted police with missiles in the city's Sandy Row area last Friday night.

McClelland was arrested and later admitted his involvement, the court heard.

Seeking bail today, defence barrister Dennis Boyd said his client had gone to the scene to join others in a peaceful protest.

"He very foolishly got himself caught up and involved himself," Mr Boyd said.

He added that McClelland has enrolled in a joinery training course in a bid to find work.

Mr Justice McCloskey adjourned the application until more details are supplied on the course.

But he also took issue with the use of the word 'protest' in the case.

Protest in its correct sense denotes something lawful, responsible, measured and properly motivated.

Judge Justice McCloskey

The judge added: "The reality of the vast majority of this kind of behaviour is that it is thuggish rioting, there is no other way of approaching it.

"The second reality is that those who choose to throw a single missile in the vicinity of police officers expose the potential victim to possible very serious injury and, indeed, in the most acute cases loss of life."

On Wednesday, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said police are continuing to deal with ongoing protests and are working to keep all main arterial routes open to "minimise disruption to the public".

He also said "everyday policing" is still being delivered during the Christmas period.

"Despite the ongoing policing operation linked to protests, we remain fully committed to delivering a safe and secure Christmas for all the people of Northern Ireland," he said.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Patto69 in Belfast wrote (740 days ago):
If he has enrolled in a joinery course then he should have ensured that was the immediate priority in his life. While no one wants to see a person losing out on employment at such a young age he should not get bail until the current street violence is at an end.
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