Published on 12 Jan 2012

Trouble, but not the Troubles

Outside the main door of Court Number 1 in Craigavon it’s like a throwback to the old days of Crumlin Road Courthouse in Belfast.

Inches away from each other, the police and defendants. The guardians of the state and the Republicans who would see it done away with for their United Ireland.

The old green police uniforms and flak jackets of the RUC long gone, in favour of the modern whites and blacks of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Equally, the Republicans’ Celtic shirts have also changed with the years.

The defendants – and there are 15 or so of them, are largely from Republican Sinn Fein which still believes in fighting for a united Ireland – with force if need be.

And yet the issue before District Judge Bates is hardly the stuff of the Troubles; bombing, gun attacks and so forth.

Bizarrely it is utterly mundane. However, the British state – busily cutting so many other aspects of public life – seems to be throwing everything at this weird case.

No. These would-be Republican revolutionaries stand charged with nothing more than holding a peaceful protest march a year ago.

Not much happened, some music and a few score Republicans marching around the streets of Lurgan to protest at the treatment of one of their prisoners.

Their crime is not seeking prior permission from the authorities of a state they do not recognise, to walk the streets and hold their placards.

Because they don’t recognise the jurisdiction of the British state, they were not about to seek permission.

So, charged under Parades Legislation designed to govern marches of a more Orange hue then green, this bizarre case unfolds.

Lawyers, at least 13 police officers called as witnesses and half-a-dozen defence lawyers – the latter openly amazed that the British state is bothering.

Republican Sinn Fein’s President and Vice-President sit in the dock. It’s too small to accommodate all the others.

The cost must run to hundreds of thousands of pounds already and the state has yet to finish its case.

Why bother? Upholding the law is all well and good but, if guilty, many of these defendants will likely refuse to pay any fines.

Therefore short prison terms and martyr-creation and yet more expense for a hard-pressed state appear the only outcomes.

Curiouser and curiouser.

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7 reader comments

  1. Rhyddid Cymru says:

    Nothing more than a circus in Craigavon court today,the British police have nothing better to do i see. We stand by our comrades in RSF and wish them all the best in their protests. E A Morgan. Rhyddid Cymru.

  2. Barry Kearney says:

    This is typical of the situation in Ireland at the moment,you don’t see any unionists being charged for their “peaceful protest” i.e. Short Strand or Ardoyne.

  3. Philip Edwards says:


    The British state is doing what it always does even to embryonic protest – over react on the basis that it might get larger and therefore more dangerous to vested interests. It has learned nothing after almost eight hundred years of occupation.

    The sooner history takes its inevitable course and Ireland is united the better. The “problem” is a leftover of Empire, an anachronism in a modern era. But it won’t go on for ever – it only seems like it.

  4. Des Dalton says:

    This trial shows the abnormality of the six-county state

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  6. john says:

    “I think it will improve the value of my website”
    In much the same way as adding manure improves crops in the ground.The apparently irreconcilable versions of the same incident are nothing new and go back beyond memory. Did Goliath’s team claim David threw before they were ready? The twisted claims apply regardless of origin, colour, caste and culture. My Side Right Or Wrong rules. Side A invents its own ‘truth’ which is accepted as gospel by their supporters. Side B feel it acceptable for them to adjust the ‘facts’. And so it goes on.

  7. Willhelm says:

    Who would have thought it, Celtic strip wearing terrorists and haters? The sooner these madmen realise, Ulster will be British for as long as the people wish it to remain so, the sooner the decent people can get on with their lives.

    Democracy is something your average hater just can’t seem to get his head round.

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