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Lyra riot accused fails in bid for bail despite rejecting violence in court

Londonderry man alleged to have encouraged street disorder as MTV film crew recorded the scene


Joseph Barr is charged with a number of offences

Joseph Barr is charged with a number of offences

Joseph Barr is charged with a number of offences

A man accused of being a senior member of the New IRA has been refused bail, despite publicly disavowing violence under questioning by a High Court judge.

Joseph Barr, with an address in the Creggan area in Londonderry is charged with a number of offences linked to alleged meetings of the dissident republican group, he is also charged with further offences linked to the filming of a documentary by MTV.

They include taking part in a riot and possession of a petrol bomb.

During a bail application on Monday the court was shown footage of Mr Barr with Radio One DJ turned documentary maker Reggie Yates filmed in Derry on the night journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead.

Mr Barr was seen showing the MTV presenter around the Creggan estate while a van was set alight by masked men just feet from where they were standing.

Petrol bombs and fireworks were thrown at police land rovers, while crowds observing the riot clapped and cheered.

The prosecution allege Mr Barr was helping direct proceedings. However, Mr Barr’s defence barrister said his client was not ever filmed in the possession of a petrol bomb.

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“It is interested that the Crown haven’t dated any of that in the footage we’ve seen nor have they told your lordship of that the date of that, is April 2019.

“On the night of that incident Lyra McKee was killed by a shot fired by someone in that area, and because of that and the seriousness of what had occurred, all of the footage you have seen was provided to police.

“It is not alleged that the applicant Mr Barr had physical possession of a petrol bomb nor is it alleged that he personally rioted, but what seems to be alleged is that by his actions in cooperating with Mr Yates and MTV that he somehow has encouraged others to do these acts.

“Even if that was right, and you can see how thin on the ground the evidence for that would be, one might have thought that Mr Yates would face the same charges as Mr Barr in this case,” he said. In one clip Reggie Yates states that he has heard gunshots the time stamp on the video coinciding with the time Ms McKee was hit in the head by a shot fired by a New IRA gunman.

Barr (33) is one of a number of people currently in custody following an MI5 surveillance operation into the activities of the New IRA.

He is charged with directing activities of the organisation and two counts of preparing for acts of terrorism while attending meetings in Omagh organised by MI5 agent Dennis McFadden.

Offending is alleged to have occurred on various dates between February and July 2020.

Scottish doctor Issam Bassalat is charged with addressing an IRA meeting.

The other accused are husband and wife David and Sharon Jordan, as well as Damien Joseph McLaughlin from Dungannon; Kevin Barry Murphy from Coalisland, Amanda McCabe and Shea Reynolds from Lurgan; Patrick McDaid and Gary Hayden from Derry.

In the last month, McDaid and Bassalat have both been granted bail.

McDaid’s successful application was granted after his cousin, the former Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney, lodged a £50,000 cash surety, he also publicly disavowed the use violence for political aims.

Days later counsel for Hayden indicated that his client was prepared to make a similar pronouncement, that case is still ongoing.

When asked about his position on the validity of “armed struggle” Mr Barr told the court: “My position on it now is that it would be counterproductive and unnecessary for people who want a united Ireland.”

Mr Justice Ian Huddleston then asked, how that reconciled with the interview he gave to MTV.

“That was three years ago,” Mr Barr replied. “I’ve been in for 16 months. I haven’t seen my son. My grandmother died.

“I had to say goodbye with a phone call. I’ve came to the realisation that my children, my family, my mother has been through an awful lot. It’s her birthday on Friday, it’s her first Christmas without her mum. My sole focus if I was granted bail would be to enjoy Christmas with my family and set out to get a job to support my family.”

Mr Barr said the prosecution had tried to portray him “as a fanatic wedded to an ideology and I can’t be reasoned with but that can’t be further from the truth”.

“I believe in the power of words, persuasion,” he added.

“The pen is mightier than the sword. That’s where I am in life.”

The court was told that Mr Barr had a number of sureties including £25,000 of his mother’s “life savings” and a bail address with his parents away from the Creggan.

However, Mr Justice Huddleston refused bail saying: “The risk of committing further offences is I regret to say plausible.”

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