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Dissident republican Fennell fails to have prosecution declared null and void

Published 27/09/2016

Dee Fennell
Dee Fennell
Dee Fennell at an Anti Internment parade in Belfast

A prominent dissident republican charged with encouraging terrorism has failed in a High Court bid to have his prosecution declared null and void.

Lawyers for Damien "Dee" Fennell claimed criminal proceedings over a speech delivered at an Easter Rising commemoration event should be halted due to a failure to secure consent from the Advocate General for Northern Ireland.

But senior judges today dismissed his legal challenge after declaring it to be a form of satellite litigation.

Fennell, 34, of Torrens Avenue in Belfast, is awaiting trial on counts of encouraging acts of terrorism, inviting support for the IRA and addressing a meeting to encourage support for the IRA. He denies the charges.

The alleged offences relate to a speech he gave during a 1916 commemoration event at St Colman's Cemetery in Lurgan, Co Armagh on Easter Sunday last year.

His legal team wanted to judicially review the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), arguing that the terror-related charges needed authorisation from Advocate General Jeremy Wright.

They argued that Mr Wright's consent was required because the alleged offences relate to the affairs of a country outside the UK, namely the Republic of Ireland.

Counsel for Fennell insisted the graveyard oration made reference to the Irish partition and political parties in the Dail.

She contended that the purpose of the speech was connected with the affairs of the Republic of Ireland.

On that basis, and without approval from the Advocate General, the charges are a nullity, it was claimed.

But a barrister for the PPS branded the challenge a classic example of satellite litigation.

He also disputed claims the speech impacted on the Republic, arguing that the alleged offences involved encouraging armed resistance against authorities in the United Kingdom.

Dismissing Fennell's application, Mr Justice Maguire pointed out that he has already mounted an unsuccessful attempt to have the charges thrown out at the Crown Court.

He said: "Not only is there an attempt to take the matter outside the criminal arena, to which it belongs, but there is also an attempt to use judicial review as a backdoor means of seeking to procure the overturning of a Crown Court Judge's ruling in respect of ongoing proceedings of which he is seized."

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