APPEALS DECISION SLAMMED !
THE FAILURE BY members of an Ardoyne residents group to overturn their convictions for staging a sit-down protest during a disputed Orange Order parade highlights the one-sided nature of Policing against republicans, a spokesman for the group has said.
Yesterday ( Wednesday 16th May ) eight men, including some members of Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC), had their appeals against conviction in relation to a sit-down protest on the Crumlin Road last July rejected. The eight, including GARC spokesman Dee Fennell, were ordered to pay the £400 fines imposed in December last year. So far a total of 28 people have been convicted in relation to the blockade, which preceded three days of violence in the area. Speaking to the North Belfast News yesterday Fennell said the failure of the appeal brings into focus the comparatively low number of arrests in relation to recent high profile loyalist protests, including the December 2010 protest outside Belfast City Hall over a decision by Sinn Fein mayor Niall O’ Donnghaile not to present an army cadet with an award, anddisturbances during the loyalist Tour of the North Parade in June 2011 when loyalist protesters were seen climbing on Police vans and drinking in the street. ” This just clearly shows the one-sided nature of Policing of parades here,” said Fennell. ” Loyalists seem to be able to protest willy-nilly yet when a group of nationalists hold a peaceful, non-violent sit-down protest against a Orange Order parade they are dragged through the courts. It highlights the continuing demonstration and criminalization of the Ardoyne community.
So far there have been no arrests for the protest at Belfast City Hall because police say no formal statements of complaint were made. There have also been no arrests for the Tour of the North disturbances. A police spokesman also confirmed that there had been no arrests in connection with a 2010 loyalist blockade at the enterance to the Asda supermarket on the Shore Road in support of Asda worker Billy Hunter who was saked for allegedly making a sectarian comment. He subsequently got his job back. Furthermore,there has only been one youth charged in connection with rioting in Rathcoole in October 2010. ” Nationalists have the right to protest peacefully against unwanted loyalist parades in their area, but this is not reflected by the Policing.”
The police spokesman said they ” always seek to make policing decisions to the benefit of the entire community”. ” We do recognise that sometimes policing decisions can be controversial but we would again assure people that any decisions we take are based upon the prevailing need at the time and with the intention of preventing any harm to the community,” he said. Dee Fennell said the eight who failed in their appeal are willing to go to jail rather than pay the fines. He added that GARC will continue to stage peaceful protests against Orange Order parades through Ardoyne. The eight men who appealed were Dee Fennell; Daniel Lundy; John Darragh; Paul Carson; Alan Lundy; William Catney; Robert Jackson and Aiden Ferguson.
WITH THANKS TO : GEMMA BURNS, NORTH BELFAST NEWS.
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NATIONALIST residents who failed yesterday to overturn convictions for staging a sitdown protest at a disputed Orange Order parade have vowed to go to jail rather than pay fines.
Appeals by eight men found guilty of obstructing lawful activity in public were dismissed at elfast County ourt. ines of £400.00 had been imposed on each of them for blocking a main road at Ardoyne in the North of the cityduring the Twelth of July march in 2010. Some were also convicted of resising arrest and handed an additional £200 in penalties. Judge Derick Rodgers threw out the appeals after rejecting all grounds of challange.
Outside the Court it was claimed the charges were brought in a doomed attempt to silence the Greater Ardoyne Residents Coalition’s ( GARC ) opposition to Orange parades. GARC spokesman Damien Fennell ( 30 ) of Linden Gardens, Belfast, who was one of those found guilty of obstruction, said: ” We will be continuing to oppose unwanted parades through our area by whatever peacefull means necessary.” Mr Fennell also said the punishment was unjust. ” All of the appellants here today will be refusing to pay their fines,” he said. ” we are willing to go to jail to demonstrate our opposition to these parades through our area.”
Last December a total of 25 men and one woman were found guilty of staging an illegal sit-down protest on the Crumlin Road. Identification evidence was held to be strong enough to convict them. 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. Those who appealed were Mr Fennell; 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; Daniel Lundy ( 31 ) of Russell Place – all in Belfast.
Their lawyers argued the road was already blocked before the protest began. Judge Rodgers rejected this submission and a further contention that the blockage was caused by Police diversion signs. He stressed the appellants were not deprived of their right to protest under the European Convention of Human Rights. Upholding the convictions, he said: ” 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,” he said. He also dismissed the appeals against resisting police, declaring that officers acted lawfully in clearing the roadway.
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IRA convictions against husband and wife to be quashed
A husband and wife jailed for offences connected to the IRA interrogation and murder of a police informer appear set to have their convictions overturned.
Mr Fenton was a Special Branch agent shot dead after being lured to a house in the city in February 1989
The Court of Appeal was told that the prosecution accepts the guilty verdicts against the couple should be quashed.
Mr Martin, who was also found guilty of making property available for terrorism, was later sentenced to four years imprisonment.
His wife, formerly known as Veronica Martin, was jailed for six months.
Similar false imprisonment counts against the couple over the abduction of another informer, Sandy Lynch, in 1990 were overturned three years ago.
Matter of time
In an unprecedented move, the Criminal Cases Review Commission decided to refer separate convictions relating to the Fenton incident back to the Court of Appeal.
The body, set up to examine potential miscarriages of justice, refused to disclose the reasons for its decision.
But in court on Friday senior counsel for the prosecution confirmed its new position.
Gerry Simpson QC said: “The prosecution accepts that the convictions of these appellants should be quashed.”
One reason given was that all relevant material was not made available to the Director of Public Prosecutions, preventing him from properly considering whether Mr Martin and Ms Ryan should have faced charges.
Mr Simpson added: “The fact that such material was withheld from the director during the proceedings prevented the director from discharging the prosecution’s duty of disclosure, which had the capacity to affect the continuation or outcome of the proceedings.”
Although the court has not yet formally quashed the convictions, legal sources said the announcement by the prosecution meant it was only a matter of time.
A further hearing next month is expected to deal with any further disclosure being sought in the case.
Outside court Mr Martin and Ms Ryan’s solicitor, Kevin Winters, said they must now be given a full explanation.
“We welcome this second such decision. It is unprecedented that two separate cases like this stand to be dismissed on the same basis,” he said.
“The appellants are now entitled to know the reasons why they were subjected to what we say was a contrived prosecution.”
Mr Winters also vowed to press ahead with further proceedings, including compensation claims, following Friday’s developments.
With Many Thanks To : BBC News Northern Ireland.
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