Memorial ban upheld after RIRA funeral

John Brady's Coffin with paramilitary salute

A man charged over a dissident republican show of strength at the funeral of an IRA killer failed in a High Court bid to be allowed to attend his memorial mass.

Wednesday, 06 October 2010

Conor Casey was seeking permission to go to a service marking the first anniversary of the death in custody of John Brady.

The 39-year-old of Forthglen, Cookstown, is accused of managing a meeting on 8 October 2009 in support of a proscribed organisation - the Real IRA.

He is also charged with aiding and abetting the possession of firearms on that day.

Brady, who served a sentence for murdering an RUC officer, was found dead at a police station in Derry. He is believed to have died by suicide.

Prosecutors said the charges against Casey relate to a show of strength over Brady's coffin outside a house on the Drumrallagh estate in Strabane.

Three men wearing paramilitary-style uniforms and masks fired a volley of shots on the orders of a fourth man dressed the same way.

Before this Casey is alleged to have placed an Irish flag, black beret and gloves on top of the coffin.

A Crown lawyer said: "The applicant, dressed in dark trousers, a white shirt and black tie and black mourner's armband took up position behind the three persons lining the side of the coffin," he said.

"After it the applicant was seen to crouch down and seen to be picking up empty cartridges from the discharged firearms."

Although Casey is out on bail, he was seeking a temporary lifting of a ban on being at public meetings and an extended curfew to attend the memorial mass.

Prosecution objections were based on concerns about any paramilitary activity taking place.

But defence counsel Sean Devine said: "He was a very close friend of the deceased and it is for that reason he was given what is considered to be a place of honour at the funeral."

Mr Devine stressed there was no allegation his client was involved with the guns fired, and said his style of dress was "fairly standard uniform" for a funeral.

The barrister made clear that Casey only wanted to attend church, rather than any type of function.

Refusing to vary bail conditions, Lord Justice Girvan said attending a religious service would not normally fall within a prohibition on being at public meetings.

But he ruled: "There seems to be a real risk that on the periphery of the church service there may be matters that could give rise to problems which, because of the background of the whole situation, could tend to create problems."