Belfast Telegraph

Veteran republican on dissident rally charge fails in anonymity bid

BY ALAN ERWIN

A veteran republican facing a dissident rally charge has failed in a bid to be granted anonymity.

As Marian McGlinchey (59) was returned for trial accused of aiding and abetting at an Easter commemoration, her lawyers sought reporting restrictions in the case.

They argued she faced greater threat of being killed by loyalist paramilitaries if her details and up-to-date photos were published.

But a judge at Belfast Magistrates Court refused to grant the order due to a lack of evidence risk to life was real and immediate.

McGlinchey, of no fixed address, is charged in connection with a demonstration at Derry City Cemetery in April 2011.

It is alleged that she helped another person who addressed the rally in support of an outlawed organisation, namely the Irish Republican Army.

Plagued by ill-health in recent years, she appeared in court yesterday for a preliminary enquiry to determine whether she has a case to answer on the aiding and abetting a terrorist rally charge.

Wearing a brown duffel coat and glasses, McGlinchey shook her head when asked if she wanted to give evidence or call witnesses at this stage. A newspaper article from June this year claiming loyalist paramilitaries planned to kill her at the first opportunity was also produced.

Contending that McGlinchey's physical appearance has changed, defence counsel Sean Devine said: "The level of protection being sought is relatively modest – images of her should not be published."

But a prosecution barrister opposed the application, stressing the late notification given by the defence.

He added: "The defendant has on previous occasions sought to use the media in pursuit of her own political and ideological ambitions. She was aware of the threats on her."

District Judge Barney McElholm ruled that there was a prima facie case against her and returned her for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be set.

She was bailed to live at an address in Belfast but banned from applying for a new passport without prior permission.

Seeking the anonymity order, Mr Devine produced a doctor's report which stated media attention was likely to cause greater anxiety and worsen her medical condition.

He argued police previously informed her she was under threat.

Dismissing the application, Judge McElholm accepted McGlinchey's appearance had altered but suggested it may be due to her now wearing glasses.

After referring to the need for any anonymity application to be notified to police and prosecutors at the earliest opportunity, he ruled: "At the moment we have no objective evidence as to whether or not there is a real and immediate risk to the life and well-being of the applicant.

"In those circumstances I refuse to make an anonymity order."

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