Bizarre end to Easter commemoration trial

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Republican activists Dee Fennell and Patrick McGrath have been acquitted of all charges related to an “illegal” Easter commemoration in 2019 after their political persecution ended in an abrupt manner.

The charges arose in relation to a commemoration by Saoradh of Ireland’s patriot dead in Milltown Cemetery in 2019, which PSNI claimed amounted to an illegal parade.

On Wednesday, a judge was forced to dismiss the case after prosecutors said they were unable to play footage of the scene in question.

The prosecution said it wished to show CCTV footage from the event, which had been requested by the defence, but said it was unable to due so to “a password lock” preventing the video from being played.

A defence barrister had said that the recordings would have rubbished the Crown case that a ‘procession’ had taken place without the required approval.

“On any view of it, there is not any type of procession,” he said. “Nobody is moving forward in an orderly fashion. They are simply standing around in the entrance to Milltown Cemetery.”

The judge rejected an application for an adjournment.

“If the only evidence is based on the statements, then, having read the statements in detail and noted the observations, all I can see is they were standing there and there is no indication to say they were taking part in a procession,” he said.

“Nor is there any indication to show that Mr Fennell was actually responsible for organising the parade.”

Mr Fennell (pictured) later condemned the “incompetence” of both the PSNI and prosecutors, which had been “laid bare” in court. He also warned of an ongoing attempt to criminalise republican commemorations.

“This case was about setting a legal precedent regarding republican commemorations in the Six Counties that occur within graveyards and cemeteries,” he said.

“Its failure does not end State strategy regarding these, and republicans should be ready to challenge future attempts to criminalise us as we gather to remember our martyred dead.”

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