Man shouted IRA comments at Church parade

Ballymena Courthouse. INBT02-213AC
Ballymena Courthouse. INBT02-213AC

A man who shouted “sectarian” comments at a parade in Portglenone has been fined £250.

Joseph Martin O’Neill (29), of Feeny Road, Dungiven, admitted a charge of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or by which a breach of the peace or public disorder was likely to be occasioned, when he appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court.

The court was told that on June 28, a church service and parade had taken place in Portglenone.

As a band was returning to its dispersal point, the defendant, who was standing outside licensed premises, was observed shouting ‘IRA’ and “punching the air with his fist”, a Public Prosecution Service representative said.

O’Neill, who was described in court as being “distinctive in his dress” was identified by police and arrested.

Police considered the incident to be “sectarian” in nature, the court was told.

A defending solicitor said O’Neill, who had been attending a family Christening earlier in the day, accepted his behaviour had been “absolutely reprehensible and totally inappropriate”.

“The defendant would be neither sectarian nor political - he was home on holiday from Australia.

“He could have gone back to Australia but elected to remain here to have this (case) dealt with.

“This is a serious embarrassment to the defendant and his family, who have a licensed business in a very mixed area,” the solicitor added.

Fining O’Neill, District Judge Peter King told him: “There is nothing to suggest that this sort of behaviour is commonplace in your life.

“This matter thankfully did not escalate as it could have and we have the good sense of everybody else involved to thank for that,” the judge added.