Judge rejects Ardoyne protest appeal

Published Wednesday, 16 May 2012
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Nationalist residents who failed to overturn convictions for protesting at a disputed Orange Order parade have said they would rather go to jail than pay fines imposed on them.

Judge rejects Ardoyne protest appeal
Eight men appealed their conviction at Belfast County Court. (© UTV)

Eight men had appealed the £400 fines handed to them after being found guilty of obstructing lawful activity in public.

Some were also convicted of resisting arrest and ordered to pay an additional £200.

They blocked a main road in north Belfast's Ardoyne area during the Twelfth of July march in 2010.

Lawyers for the eight men argued that the road was already blocked before the protest began.

But at Belfast County Court on Wednesday, Judge Derek Rodgers rejected all grounds of the charges.

He said the protestors were not deprived of their right to protest under the European Convention of Human Rights.

"They could have applied to the Parades Commission for permission to protest and done so legitimately and subject to any restrictions placed on them.

"Alternatively, they could have carried out an unregulated parade which did not involve blocking the highway and preventing its legitimate use," added Judge Rodgers.

He also dismissed the appeals against resisting police, declaring that officers acted lawfully in clearing the roadway.

Greater Ardoyne Residents' Coalition spokesman Damien Fennell, 30, of Linden Gardens, Belfast appealed his conviction, along with John Darragh, 32, of Mountforde Gardens; William Catney, 53, from Springfield Park; Robert Jackson, 48, of Kenard Avenue; Paul Carson, 47, from Highbury Gardens; Alan Lundy, 33, from Rosehead; Aiden Ferguson, 31, of Highbury Gardens; and Daniel Lundy, 31, of Russell Place - all in Belfast.

Outside the court, Mr Fennell said: "We will not be going anywhere.

"We will be continuing to oppose unwanted loyal order parades through our area by whatever peaceful means necessary."

Mr Fennell also claimed the punishment was unjust, adding "All of the appellants here today will be refusing to pay their fines.

"We are willing to go to jail to demonstrate our opposition to these parades through our area."

Last December 25 men and one woman were found guilty of staging an illegal sit-down protest on the Crumlin Road.

The charges were defended with residents and campaigners claiming they were involved in a peaceful sit-down protest which did not breach a Parades Commission determination.

© UTV News
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8 Comments
WTF in Ards wrote (703 days ago):
Have to laugh at the comments of the Mr. Fennell .....'blah blah blah, march through our area, blah blah blah......'. It appears he lives off the Cliftonville Road which as far as I'm aware is at least a ten minute walk (or 2 mins by black hack more likely) to the 12 Nationalist houses on the Crumlin Road passed by this parade. How big exactly is 'our area'?
Big J in North-West wrote (704 days ago):
The Government should buy two large fields in the mid-Ulster region,away from anyone,let anyone who wants march go in one, anyone who wants to protest in the other. we'd save millions on policing, lost revenue in towns and less problems with alcohol and road closures
Neil in moira wrote (704 days ago):
so that is 2 people from Ardoyne and one from the Bone not too far away, so why did the rest make their way down to be "offended"? Pathetic
dave in omagh wrote (704 days ago):
What an intelligent bunch..Irelands finest.LOL.
bigmac in belfast wrote (704 days ago):
Of all the above named 2 live in ardoyne did the rest arrive by taxi's the local people don't want this outfit near the area on the 12th or any other day.
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