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Ardoyne men to appear again over parade protest

By Evan Short

Eleven Ardoyne men are to appear in court again next week to hear a judge’s verdict on charges of taking part in an illegal protest.

Paul Carson (49) and Aiden Ferguson (33) both of Highbury Gardens, Damien Fennell (31) of Duneden Park; Gerard Lagan (52) of Butler Walk, Peter Lagan (53) of Jamaica Street, Daniel Lundy (32) of Russell Place, Joseph Montgomery (19) and Joseph Jude Montgomery (45) of Rosehead, Kevin Clarke (34) of Saunderson Court and James Osborne (20) of Prospect Park were all summonsed to appear in Belfast Magistrates Court on Tuesday (January 14) to answer charges of taking part in a protest meeting which had not been applied for under parading legislation.

The men, who appeared alongside six others from the Rasharkin area of County Antrim charged in connection with the same incident, all pleaded not guilty.

The charges arose from an incident on December 12, 2012, when the men were alleged to have stood watching an Apprentice Boys parade from Ardoyne Shops.

On that day, only the Crumlin Adoyne Residents Association (CARA) had notified the Parades Commission of their plans to stage a protest against the parade.

All men claimed through their defence solicitor they were merely watching the parade.

However the prosecution argued that their actions constituted a demonstration.

John O’Neill, prosecuting, said when PSNI officers attempted to engage with the men, some claimed they were waiting for a bus. However when a bus arrived, none got on.

Video of the incident was played in court showing the men weren’t holding banners  and hadn’t made any expression of opposition to the parade.

But an attempt to throw the charges out failed.

The 17 accused declined to give evidence during the hearing.

District Judge George Connor reserved his verdict until next Thursday (January 21) when the men will appear again.

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