Belfast Telegraph

Union flag protestor Jamie Bryson gets public speech ban lifted

Union flag protestor Jamie Bryson is no longer banned from making public speeches, a judge ruled today.

A prohibition on him using social media and giving press interviews about the dispute at Belfast City Hall has also been lifted.

The restrictions were removed following a previous decision to withdraw incitement charges against him.

Bryson punched the air as he left the Laganside Court complex after succeeding in having his bail terms varied.

The 23-year-old, from Rosepark, Donaghadee, Co Down, is still accused of taking part in unlawful processions and obstructing traffic during demonstrations over last December's move to restrict the flying of the union flag at City Hall.

Last week the two most serious charges against him were dropped. They involved claims that he encouraged or assisted offences by addressing public gatherings.

Those alleged offences, under the Serious Crime Act, would have been dealt with in the Crown Court where heavier sentences could be imposed on conviction.

He has been left facing four counts of participating in an un-notified public procession and obstructing traffic on the city's Newtownards Road in January.

Bryson is set to fight those charges at a future hearing before Belfast Magistrates' Court.

He was in attendance today as his barrister sought to have two of his bail conditions altered.

Richard McConkey applied for a lifting of the ban on participating in any media interview in relation to the flag issue.

He also wanted the removal of a prohibition on making public speeches or social media comment before, during or after any public protest related to the dispute.

Police objected to the application, arguing that Bryson has a leadership role.

Concerns were also voiced about parade planned for the end of this month to make the first anniversary of the protests beginning. 

But after Mr McConkey raised issues about human rights district judge Fiona Bagnall granted both variations.

However, Bryson is still barred from going within a mile of any parade or demonstration.

His case was adjourned for two weeks when a date for a contest hearing will be fixed.

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