Northern Ireland news

Derry Saoradh chairman among four before court following Maghaberry protest

Jude McCrory (23), of Magowan Park in Derry

THE Derry chairman of republican party Saoradh has appeared in court with three other men in connection with disturbances outside Maghaberry prison.

While Jude McCrory (23) was charged with disorderly behaviour, the other three - Emmet McSheffrey (21) and 20-year-olds Caoimhin Murphy and Jordan Devine - are accused of rioting at the jail on Saturday.

Appearing individually at Lisburn Magistrates Court via videolink from police custody, McSheffrey, from Oakland Park in Derry, Murphy, from Altowen Park, Coalisland, and Devine, of Synge Court in Derry, were also charged with having fireworks without a licence

A detective sergeant said he believed he could connect them to the charges, which he said arose following a protest involving “over 100 people” at the prison visitors' centre, revolving around the treatment being received by a remand prisoner.

The officer began to tell the court that in addition “a number of prisoners in Maghaberry are fasting or refusing food”, but District Judge Rosie Watters said: “I don’t need to know all of that.”

Prisoners have been protesting over Palestinian GP Dr Issam Bassalat being held in a Covid-19 isolation area after returning from hospital, rather than being returned to the 'separated' regime at Roe House.

The 62-year-old was one of 10 people arrested last month as part of an MI5 operation targeting the 'New IRA'.

It has been prison policy to quarantine for two weeks any prisoner who leaves the jail.

A PSNI officer was hurt during the weekend disturbances, with the detective telling the court there had been a “confrontation with police” and that some of the protestors had let off fireworks, including “fireworks thrown over the perimeter fence”.

Devine is alleged to have “thrown at least five missiles” at police, the detective said, adding that the case against McCrory, from Magowan Park in Derry, differed from the others.

The officer said the charge of disorderly behaviour arose when others were being arrested so “it is separate from the activity of the protestors”.

Police did not object to any of the defendants being granted bail.

The detective asked for conditions to include a curfew and prohibition in being in a private vehicle but following defence submissions, Judge Watters said she was not going to add those.

Defence lawyers argued that with Dr Bassalat’s quarantine ending tomorrow, “there will be no further protests”.

All four men were freed on their own bail of £500 with conditions that they live in addresses approved by police, report to police three times a week and are “not to be within 100 metres of a notified or unnotified protest”.

The cases were all adjourned to October 26.

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