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Saoradh member can take part in protests while on bail, judge rules


Dissident republicans protest at Maghaberry Prison in September.

Dissident republicans protest at Maghaberry Prison in September.

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

Dissident republicans protest at Maghaberry Prison in September.

A member of republican party Saoradh charged in connection with disturbances outside a jail has been granted High Court permission to take part in public protests.

Jude McCrory, 23, is facing prosecution for alleged disorderly behaviour during demonstrations at Maghaberry Prison in September.

His bail terms had included a ban on being within 100 metres of any protest.

A judge on Friday agreed to lift the prohibition but stressed any participation by McCrory must remain peaceful.

Mr Justice McAlinden said: "Irrespective of whether they are palatable political views or not, the right to express political views must be protected in any democratic society."

McCrory, of Magowan Park in Derry, was arrested and charged following a gathering outside the prison visitors' centre on September 26.

Three other men were accused of rioting in connection with disturbances where fireworks and flares were allegedly thrown at perimeter fencing.

At the time some inmates were reportedly protesting over Dr Issam Bassalat being held in a Covid-19 isolation area at Maghaberry after returning from hospital.

The 62-year-old Palestinian GP was among 10 people detained and charged as part of an MI5 operation targeting the 'New IRA'.

Seeking to vary McCrory's bail conditions, defence counsel Eoghan Devlin said his client does not dispute being a member of Saoradh.

He argued that the gathering outside the prison was a "broader church" than just republicans.

"What the prosecution want to do is stifle this man's right to protest," Mr Devlin claimed.

He also disputed Crown submissions that prima facie evidence shows McCrory was involved in organising and directing the disturbances.

Opposing the application, prosecution counsel contended there was a risk of further disorder.

"These are protests being carried out on behalf of a political organisation that supports violent dissident republican activity," he said.

Mr Justice McAlinden ruled that McCrory can attend legitimate public protests, but retaining the ban on any contact with his co-accused.

"You must remain within the law and you must not engage in any criminal activity during protests, it's as simple as that," he told the defendant.

The judge added: "I have given this individual a chance to exercise his rights in terms of political protests, but he must exercise his rights in a lawful manner. That's all I'm asking for."

Belfast Telegraph