Rioters 'draining public money'

Rioters 'draining public money'

Recreational rioters are draining vast sums of public money away from health and education during an economic crisis, a senior judge has said.

Mr Justice McCloskey warned of the reduction in services due to those who regard causing trouble on the streets of Northern Ireland as a "sport".

His scathing assessment came as bail was refused to a man accused of inflaming crowds during Twelfth of July trouble in north Belfast by climbing onto a roof and hurling masonry at police.

Dennis McClean, 32, scaled a derelict building facing the Ardoyne Road as violence broke out over the ban on Orangemen parading through the area, it was claimed.

He allegedly gestured and shouted at nationalists in a blatant attempt to "invoke their rage and anger".

Prosecution barrister Fiona O'Kane told the High Court how crowds surged forward after he started throwing missiles.

At one stage he partially fell through the roof, causing police to try to reason with him to come down, she said.

When he refused to co-operate an officer risked his own safety and climbed up onto the roof.

McClean, of Johnston Park, Carrowdore, Co Down, faces charges of riot, doing a provocative act, possession of an offensive weapon in public, resisting police and criminal damage.

His barrister, Richard McConkey, said he had taken a significant amount of drink at the time of the alleged offences.

He contended that his client could be released to live with his parents, well away from north Belfast.

But denying bail, Mr Justice McCloskey said McClean's alleged behaviour was that of "someone who, in common with many others, has obviously enjoyed what has become the sport of recreation of rioting in Northern Ireland during recent years."

"Offences of this kind are nothing short of a disgrace," he said.

Repeating his warning about police and the public being exposed to the risk of injury or death by troublemakers' behaviour, the judge added: "They cause dreadful inconvenience to those living and working in the locality.

"They include the waste of vast sums of public money during a period of economic crisis.

"As a result they are the source of reduced public services in other very needy fields such as health, education and social welfare.

"This is a dreadful mischief which the courts are consistently confronted with. Offending of this kind is inimitable to the rule of law."

© UTV

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