Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

Judge in warning over loyalist disorder

Disorder linked to loyalist flag protests is harming hundreds of thousands of people, a High Court judge has said.

Mr Justice McCloskey also warned that continuing trouble is undermining the chances of any suspects being released on bail.

Limited police resources have been unreasonably stretched by the seven weeks of roadblocks and violence, he added.

His assessment came as he refused bail to a man accused of inciting flag protesters to riot during the early days of the dispute.

Brian McLean was arrested in Carrickfergus on December 17. The 31-year-old, of Maple Gardens, faces charges of inciting others to use riotous behaviour, disorderly behaviour and failing to remove a suspected disguise.

His barrister said McLean accepted being at the scene drunk but denied any involvement in the trouble.The alleged mask was being worn around his neck to protect him from the cold.

Desmond Fahy stressed his client has spent six weeks in custody and argued McLean could be released under tight conditions, including a curfew and tagging.

But the judge said allowing suspects back onto the streets amid continuing tensions would create a risk of further offences

“I refuse the application,” Mr Justice McCloskey added.

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