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Judge uneasy over Derry Easter Rising march year in on from Lyra McKee murder

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District Judge Barney McElholm was speaking after three men were convicted of charges linked to an illegal dissident republican parade on Easter Monday 2016 (stock photo)

District Judge Barney McElholm was speaking after three men were convicted of charges linked to an illegal dissident republican parade on Easter Monday 2016 (stock photo)

District Judge Barney McElholm was speaking after three men were convicted of charges linked to an illegal dissident republican parade on Easter Monday 2016 (stock photo)

A judge has said he had hoped there would be no Easter Rising commemoration in Londonderry less than a year after the murder of a journalist in the city.

District Judge Barney McElholm was speaking after three men were convicted of charges linked to an illegal dissident republican parade on Easter Monday 2016.

All three, who were sentenced to two months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, are to appeal against their convictions and sentences handed out at Derry's Magistrates Court yesterday.

The trio are Mark Anthony Canning (43), from St Eithne's Park; James Anthony Kelly (59), from Chamberlain Street; and Eamonn Barry Millar (35), from Raftery Close.

Each was convicted of a single charge of wearing items of clothing - namely a beret, sunglasses, a scarf, a military-style jacket, a jumper, trousers, boots and gloves - in such a way as to arouse suspicions that they were members of a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA.

Kelly and Millar were also convicted of taking part in the unnotified public procession on March 28, 2016, while Canning was acquitted of the same offence.

A PSNI inspector told Judge McElholm that shortly before the parade started he went to Rathmore Business Park in Creggan where he saw Canning and another man "dressed in full paramilitary uniform and carrying flags".

CCTV footage taken from a police helicopter showed several men getting into a white van. When the van was stopped and searched by police they found Canning inside still in uniform.

The inspector said he also identified Millar and Kelly, from police CCTV footage and from photographs, taking part in the parade in uniform.

Mr McElholm accepted a submission by defence barrister Eoghan Devlin that there was no evidence of Canning taking part in the parade.

Mr Devlin also questioned the reference in the charge to the IRA. "All that can be adduced is that there were people wearing military fatigues," he said.

Referring to a planned republican parade due to take place in Creggan this Easter, Mr McElholm said: "I would have hoped that as it is barely a year since Lyra McKee's murder there would have been no Easter parades this year."

After sentencing, the three men were granted leave to appeal on condition that they did not go within 500m of any illegal parade.

Belfast Telegraph