Northern Ireland news

Derry judge defends anonymity for people on drugs charges due to 'nest of dissidents in this city'

Judge Barney McElholm

A judge in Derry has defended the granting of anonymity to people charged with drug offences due to the fact "we happen to have a nest of dissidents in this city".

During an application for anonymity at the city's magistrate's court, District Judge Barney McElholm hit out at those behind threats and shootings.

He said there would be no need for anonymity if there wasn't "a bunch of criminals" shooting people.

"How dare these people set themselves up as vigilantes they have no moral or any other sort of authority?" he said.

"Anyone who had to tramp through the bomb site in Omagh as I had to in August 1998 will see them for the scum that they are.

"They have no right whatsoever to set themselves up as any sort of authority."

The judge said that people including some politicians had queried the number of anonymity applications being granted in his court but he said if there were no dissident republicans shooting people there would be no need for anonymity.

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