A Londonderry man who was the lead flag bearer in a republican parade walked free from court today after his 16 month jail term was suspended for three years.
Belfast Crown Court Judge David McFarland had earlier found 43-year-old Patrick John McDaid guilty of managing a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA after deciding that despite being masked, he was "man X" at the front of the march, carrying the Irish Tricolour.
During a two day hearing last month, the Diplock, no jury trial judge had heard evidence that experts in facial mapping and image comparison techniques had opined that the masked man carrying the flag at the head of the march in the city cemetary in Derry on Easter Sunday 2011 was McDaid, despite the fact that he was wearing a balaclava.
The seven strong, masked colour party, carrying various flags headed up a parade at the city cemetery close to the graves of republicans during an Easter Sunday commemoration, organised by the 32 County Sovereign Movement where a speech was made by a masked man on behalf of the Real IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann (OnH).
The colour party had been driven to the cemetery in the back of a van driven by Marvin Canning, a brother-in-law of the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Before the trial started 51-year-old Canning, from Galliagh Park in Londonderry, pleaded guilty to the same charge but he also walked free from court after his nine-month jail term was suspended for three years.
Pleading guilty alongside him was fellow Derry man 30-year-old Frank Quigley from Elmwood Road whose ten month jail term was also suspended for three years.
Quigley had been in the back of the van along with the masked colour party and police helicopter footage had shown him adjusting the balaclava of one of the colour party.