Court dismisses case because there were too few present who were likely to be offended?

Interesting judgement yesterday…

A small group of around 15 nationalist protesters was said to have been gathered nearby. However, the defendants’ lawyer argued that the band was playing Sloop John B, the Beach Boys’ song which has the same tune.
After hearing evidence the district judge made no ruling on whether or not it was the Famine Song being played.
But it was decided that the prosecution had failed to establish there was an intention to provoke a breach of the peace.
The verdict also took into account the likelihood of such an outcome given the number of protestors at the scene.
On that basis all 11 defendants were acquitted.

Two of the chief political spokesmen to this ongoing north Belfast ‘domestic dispute’ were for once united….

Mr Kelly said: “Clearly these breaches of determinations should be dealt with in a consistent manner”.

Mr McCausland, a member of the Orange Order, said: “People will question how these outcomes are arrived at and how the evidence is judged.

“Such inconsistency is not good and undermines confidence in the legal process.”

Maybe. And then again a less kind observer might suggest that if there had been more consisted handling of this dispute by said gentlemen there might not have been a court case in the first place.

All these cases amount to a court adjudication on legal right ‘to offend’ or ‘not to be offended’. Not the most edifying use of politic energies I suppose, or indeed the most productive for the voters of north Belfast.

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