Belfast Telegraph

Five have charges withdrawn over illegal Northern Ireland parade and wearing paramilitary garb

Four men and a woman charged with taking part in an illegal parade and wearing paramilitary style clothing had the charges against them withdrawn on Friday.

A prosecution lawyer told Craigavon Magistrates' Court that while charges against the five, who all refused to identify themselves or to stand up in the dock when requested to do so, are being withdrawn, “the case is to proceed by way of report".

The lawyer revealed that a similar case had been referred to the Court of Appeal but that a decision in that case is expected in the next few weeks.

The five defendants are: Martin Stephen Conlon (48), Tarry Drive in Lurgan; Christopher Martin Hamill (27), Lurgan Tarry, Lurgan; Audrey Sharpe (49), Drumbeg, Tullygally; Declan McCrory (47), Aghaboy Road, Omagh and Sean Pearson (24), Culmore Park, also in Omagh.

They are all jointly charged with two counts of taking part in an un-notified public procession on April 15 and 16 this year and on two further charges of wearing items of clothing, namely paramilitary style uniforms, "in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he was a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation, contrary to Section 13(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000," on the same dates.

None of the surrounding circumstances giving rise to the allegations have been opened in court but it is understood they relate to un-notified parades in Lurgan and Belfast on 15 and 16 April this year.

In court District Judge Bernie Kelly told the PPS they had made “an excellent decision".

“Mark them withdrawn by way of report and Mr Lunny, can you explain and reinforce the fact that this isn’t the gates of hell,” the judge told defence barrister Conor Lunny.

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