Dissident republican activist Damien 'Dee' Fennell banned from making public speeches
A prominent dissident republican activist charged with encouraging terrorism has been banned from making any public speeches.
The prohibition was imposed on Damien "Dee" Fennell as part of conditions under which he was granted bail at the High Court in Belfast today.
A judge decided the 33-year-old could be released from custody after he pledged to abide by all terms, including an order not to post any material online.
Fennell, from the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, is also accused of inviting support for a proscribed organisation.
The charges relate to a speech he gave during a 1916 commemoration event at St Colman's graveyard in Lurgan, Co Armagh on Easter Sunday.
His address was recorded and broadcast on the internet, only to be removed following media reports that police were investigating the contents.
PSNI officers searched Fennell's home on April 20 and recovered one page of the hand-written speech behind a kitchen microwave, a prosecution lawyer said.
The accused denied encouraging any terrorism following his arrest.
During police interviews his lawyer read a prepared statement where he described comments about the armed struggle and existence of the IRA as his personal opinion.
Fennell, a spokesman for the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective which opposes Orange Order marches through his neighbourhood, was said to have been addressing an event organised by the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association.
Part of the speech claimed a "British micro-minister" would later be attending the same graveyard.
Prosecution counsel said this was believed to be a reference to one of the Sinn Fein ministers at Stormont.
Opposing bail, she claimed Fennell does not recognise the court and will not comply with any conditions set.
But Mr Justice Weir noted how the accused appeared to have included the police and army among his list of unacceptable authorities.
"The courts seem to have had a bye, on this occasion anyway," he said.
Aileen Smyth, defending, argued that Fennell has fully participated in each court appearance.
His alleged opposition is a fallacy advanced in a bid to stop him being released, she claimed.
Referring to the cemetery speech, Ms Smyth contended: "He was simply asserting his own personal opinion.
"At no point was he indicating he would encourage anybody to engage in any acts of violence."
She highlighted his role as a qualified youth worker within his community, helping to reduce offending behaviour and raising awareness about the dangers of drugs.
The judge asked Fennell, who appeared via a prison video-link, if he will comply with release conditions and turn up at court.
He replied: "I will."
Following his assurance Mr Justice Weir said: "On the basis of you giving me your word I will admit you to bail."
Fennell was instructed to live at his home address - which is not to be published - and report to police three times a week.
The judge also directed: "You are to refrain from any public speaking, and you are not to post or cause to be posted any material on the internet or social media pending the outcome of this case."
Belfast Telegraph Digital