Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Incredulity from judge as man on terror charge for giving police his details in Irish

A man who gave his name and address in Irish when he was stopped by police has appeared at Londonderry Magistrates Court charged under anti-terrorism legislation.

Dermot Douglas (49), of Mellows Park in Dublin, was charged with not giving his details to the best of his ability under the Justice and Security Act on March 6.

Defence solicitor Brian Stelfox told the court his client had come out of a house in the Creggan area of the city and had been stopped by police, and when asked for identification gave his details in Irish.

District judge Barney McElholm asked: "Was the sum total of this case -- that he gave his name in Irish?" Mr Stelfox said Douglas had "quite happily" allowed the police to search him, and then gave his name and address in Irish and was arrested.

The defence solicitor said while being held at Strand Road PSNI station he was offered a caution but refused to accept it "on principle", as he felt he had complied with the law. A prosecution lawyer asked for the case to be adjourned for four weeks for further investigation, and Mr Stelfox said he was "at a loss to see how there could be any further investigation".

Judge McElholm said: "One wonders what would have happened if Mr Douglas had been Romanian or Chinese."

The defence solicitor said his client felt he was entitled to have the case heard in Irish, and the judge said he was amenable, as long as there was "due consideration for the public purse".

The case was adjourned and Douglas will appear again on May 1 to see, as Judge McElholm put it, "if we can get this resolved".

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