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Dissident Fennell has bail varied to aid childcare

By Ashleigh McDonald

North Belfast dissident Damien 'Dee' Fennell has had his bail conditions altered to accommodate his childcare commitments.

Fennell, a father-of-six, is awaiting trial on terrorist charges arising from a speech he gave during an Ester Rising commemoration in Lurgan in 2015.

From Torrens Avenue, the 35-year-old - who denies inviting support for the IRA, encouraging acts of terrorism and addressing a meeting to encourage support for the IRA - is the subject of several bail conditions.

A barrister for Fennell made an appeal to Belfast Crown Court yesterday, asking that this condition be varied due to childcare practicalities.

The barrister said Fennell is a father of six and his wife is a full-time nurse who works shifts.

Fennell's barrister spoke of the practical difficulties faced by Fennell of signing at a city centre police station three times a week, coupled with the responsibility of looking after six children.

When counsel for the prosecution was asked what the Crown's view was on the variation, he said it was its view there was "still a need to monitor" Fennell.

Speaking about "the nature of the comments" which form the charges against Fennell, Crown counsel told the court it was approaching a "sensitive" time of the year.

After listening to both the Crown and defence, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said he was prepared to grant the variation and reduce the signing to once a week.

Fennell is now required to sign each Wednesday between 2pm and 6pm.

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