Explanation required on collapse of court case

DUP South Antrim MLA and Policing Board representative Trevor Clarke has expressed concern at the collapse of court proceedings against tw Belfast republicans accused of participating in an illegal Easter procession in 2019.

By Trevor Clarke MLA

South Antrim

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Commenting, he said:

‘‘The handling of the case against these two individuals raises serious questions about how illegal paramilitary gatherings are dealt with in Northern Ireland. It seems extraordinary that steps weren’t taken to ensure that crucial video footage being presented to the court would be readily available.

There is an onus on prosecutors to explain why this technical problem occurred, particularly given that this and previous adjournments played such a decisive role in the acquittal of Dee Fennell and Patrick McGrath.

The public in Northern Ireland deserve to have confidence in the criminal justice system’s ability to deal robustly with those who organise, attend or direct paramilitary shows of strength. This means ensuring our courts can come to balanced conclusion based on all of the evidence, not a bit part approach. It is critical that any mistakes in this case are substantively addressed in order to send a message that prosecutors are serious about cracking down on dissident republican activity in all forms.’’

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