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No prosecution over 'F*** the DUP' placard in Belfast

Ellie Evans with her 'F*** the DUP' placard during Belfast Pride last year
Brendan Hughes

A WOMAN questioned by police for holding a "F*** the DUP" placard at a gay pride march in Belfast will not be prosecuted, it has been confirmed.

The PSNI sent a file to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) last year over Ellie Evans (25) carrying the placard during the city's Pride event.

She was interviewed after police received two complaints, including one from DUP assembly member Jim Wells – who asked officers to investigate it as a 'hate crime'.

However, the PPS said that after examining the case it has decided not to take the matter any further.

It considered two potential public order offences as well as public processions legislation, but concluded the matter did not meet the 'test for prosecution'.

This involves an assessment of whether the available evidence provides a reasonable prospect of conviction, and whether such a prosecution would be in the public interest.

In a statement, a PPS spokeswoman said: "We have carefully considered all of the available evidence in this case and it has been concluded that the test for prosecution is not met.

"Two potential public order offences were considered in relation to the incident. However, it was concluded that there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction for an offence under Article 9 of the Public Order (NI) Order 1987 because the message was not directed towards a group of persons defined by religious belief, disability, race, sexual orientation, colour, nationality or ethnicity.

"An offence contrary to Article 19 of the 1987 Order was also considered but the available evidence did not provide a reasonable prospect of proving the required intent to provoke a breach of the peace or, alternatively, that a breach of the peace was likely as a result of the accused's conduct."

Ms Evans's placard was confiscated on the day of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) march by Belfast Pride organisers, who feared it breached Parades Commission rules.

However, the PPS spokeswoman added: "It was further considered that the potential for prosecution under Article 9 of the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998 did not arise because no determination had issued from the Parades Commission in respect of the Belfast Pride parade."

In the weeks after being questioned by the PSNI, Ms Evans criticised the probe as "ridiculous" and a waste of police resources.

But Mr Wells had welcomed the investigation, saying that people who voted DUP "have a right to be respected".

In November, the PSNI dropped a probe into similar 'F*** the DUP' displays at an abortion rally in Belfast, saying that organisers had shown co-operation and "no further police action was deemed necessary".

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