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Judge bans Jamie Bryson from Irish Cup final


Jamie Bryson was given bail at Belfast Magistrates' Court this afternoon

Jamie Bryson was given bail at Belfast Magistrates' Court this afternoon

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Jamie Bryson was given bail at Belfast Magistrates' Court this afternoon

Leading union flag protester Jamie Bryson cannot attend tomorrow's Irish Cup soccer final, a judge has ruled.

The Ulster Peoples' Forum spokesman was seeking permission to attend the showpiece match between Glentoran and Cliftonville.

Bryson is currently banned from being within four miles of Belfast City Hall while on bail charged with offences connected to the ongoing flag dispute.

He sought to have the prohibition relaxed so that he could join thousands of supporters at the game being held at Windsor Park Stadium in the south of the city.

Police opposed his application amid concerns protests could be staged at the ground over the decision not to play the national anthem before the match.

They argued that such an event would lead to Bryson being in breach of another condition not to go within a mile of any public demonstration.

The 23-year-old, of Rosepark, Donaghadee, Co Down, faces six charges involving allegations of encouraging or assisting offences, and taking part in an unnotified public procession.

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He has previously been refused permission to attend an Ulster Volunteer Force centenary parade, but allowed to stay out later at night to play for his local amateur football team.

Making the latest application, his lawyer today told Belfast Magistrates' Court that he would be bussed straight into the stadium and back out again after the game.

Richard McConkey said: "I asked him if there were to be a protest at Windsor Park how would he react. He said 'I would leave'."

District Judge Austin Kennedy accepted Bryson genuinely wanted to be at the match.

"That's what happens, that's the nature of sport, people want to attend finals," he said.

However, the judge denied the request due to the potential threat of any trouble breaking out.

"There is the issue of public order and the maintenance of public order given the current climate surrounding the issue of the union flag protests, regarding the issue of the national anthem tomorrow and because police have information there will be a protest," he added.

"On balance I'm not prepared to take the risk at this stage."

Bryson shook his head as he walked from the courtroom following the refusal.

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