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Man in court over offensive material on Antrim loyalist 11th night bonfire

By Nevin Farrell

Published 15/09/2015

Colin White, leaves Antrim Magistrates Court following the hearing. Picture Mark Jamieson.
Colin White, leaves Antrim Magistrates Court following the hearing. Picture Mark Jamieson.

A man appeared in court today over an alleged hate crime at a notorious loyalist bonfire in what is believed to be one of the first case of its kind in Northern Ireland.

In a landmark move, 19-year-old Colin White was in Antrim Magistrates Court charged over the placing of offensive material on an Eleventh Night bonfire in the town.

The huge bonfire in the mainly loyalist Ballycraigy estate made headlines around the world in 2014 for its sectarian displays, including an effigy of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

It also caused outrage over a racist slur scrawled across bedsteads positioned at the base of the bonfire.

Numerous Irish tricolours and a rainbow flag associated with gay rights were also placed on the bonfire ahead of the Twelfth of July last year.

No specific details of the case were outlined at the court on Tuesday.

White of Farmhill in the Ballycraigy estate is charged with displaying 'written material which was threatening, abusive or insulting, intending thereby to arouse fear, or having regard to all the circumstances fear or hatred was likely to be aroused' on July 11, 2014.

In a short hearing at Antrim Magistrates Court, White was wearing black trousers, a black shirt and tie.

A prosecutor asked for the case to be adjourned until October.

The prosecutor said he believed it was going to be a not guilty plea.

A defence solicitor applied for legal aid saying the accused earns £800 a month.

Police launched a hate crime investigation over the Ballycraigy bonfire last year following complaints and later passed a file to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

The Ballycraigy bonfire caused uproar again this year when effigies of Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and hunger striker Bobby Sands in a coffin were placed on it.

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